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Why It Isn’t Wise to Copy People When They Exercise

A "behind the neck" lat pulldown

I’ve seen some interesting things lately while spending time at the gym.

Now to be honest, I don’t work out in gyms very often, and I don’t belong to one currently.

However, since I’m able to go as a guest with some of my family members from time to time, I have to say that I’ve recently noticed a few people doing things that not only made me cringe because they were dangerous…but rendered further proof of why it isn’t a good idea to copy people when you watch them exercise.

Unless of course you know what you’re doing – which most do NOT.

Why It Isn’t Wise to Copy People When They Exercise

Did you happen to notice the image I chose for this post? It’s a picture of a man doing what is called a “behind the neck/head lat pull down exercise”.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that his anterior delts (front part of the shoulder) are hyper-extended because he is bringing the bar down behind his neck as opposed to bringing it to his chest – the way this exercise is meant to be performed.

This may not seem like a big deal… unless you know better.

And if you do happen to know better, you’ll see that it isn’t a good idea because doing this exercise this way not only places unnecessary strain on the shoulder joint, but has also caused some pretty nasty injuries to people because of the possibility of hitting your upper spinal column with the bar.

Now have I seen people do behind the neck pull downs over and over again?

Yep.

Some of them appeared to be in pretty good shape too.

In fact, if I didn’t know any better, and was new to working out and needed some ideas…then I, like many others, would seek to copy those who looked like they’ve been at it for a while.

And if that one example wasn’t enough…I happened to have noticed a couple of other “don’ts” going on in the gym this week, such as:

  • Someone doing walking lunges when they looked like they should have been doing a modified stationary lunge instead (since they were uncoordinated and unable to do the exercise with proper form).
  • A perfectly healthy/fit/muscular looking man performing a chest fly exercise on a fly/reverse fly machine with his arms severely hyper-extended in the starting position (another shoulder injury waiting to happen).
  • People running on the treadmill while holding on to the handles (because they were running faster than they could naturally keep up with).

So while you may now have some idea of why it isn’t wise to copy other people’s workouts, one question you may have is…

Does This Also Include Copying Personal Trainers or Fitness Professionals?

Yes it does…and there are a few reasons for this:

  1. Not all gyms/ fitness facilities require their staff to be well-trained and educated in the field of exercise. There is a lot to consider when doing certain workouts – and unless you know for a fact that the trainer you are watching is well-qualified, you really have no idea if they’re doing anything you should be copying.
  2. Even if the trainer you are watching knows exactly what they are doing and are doing it correctly, you don’t know for sure that you are in the right physical condition to get away with copying their exercises. For example – if you’ve ever watched any of the personal trainers at the gym you belong to engage in their own workout (as I have plenty of times) – then you’ll notice that their routines are pretty intense. They’ve been at it for years, they know what they’re doing AND they knowingly (and willingly) assume any and all risks that go along with the potential for injuries. Can you say the same thing about you?
  3. If you are watching them train someone else and you feel compelled to copy what you see them instruct their client to do, it’s important to understand that there is a reason they chose specific exercises for the individual they are working with that may not be appropriate for you. However, you can always walk up and politely inquire about what they are doing and perhaps consider scheduling a consultation with them.

So What’s the Best Way to Get Safe and Structured Workout Ideas?

That’s a good question.

While there is no problem observing others as they do their exercises, it’s a good idea to gain some knowledge before attempting them yourself.

Now, I also realize that not all exercises necessarily look harmful and in fact, some may be harmless to copy. But the truth is that you really don’t know if following what someone else is doing is right for you.

So on that note, some tips you can follow are…

- If you are working out at the gym and there are machines around, make sure that a qualified member of the staff has taught you how to use the equipment properly and then be present and cognizant while doing the exercises on your own.

- If you happen to see someone doing something that looks interesting, make a mental note to do some investigating on your own and see whether or not there is a proper demonstration out there to teach you how to do the exercise correctly. You can also ask one of the staff members what they think…and consider booking a session or two with one of the trainers just to teach you how to do a few things using proper form.

I will also recommend visiting the video libraries of the NSCA and Sparkpeople.com for proper exercise instruction and technique.

Just Be Mindful and Intentional

Your best bet when it comes to your own exercise program is to be conscious about everything you do…and question everything you see others do.

If you see someone doing something that doesn’t look right, then it probably isn’t. Know that just because the person performing the exercise in question appears to be in good shape doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

“Monkey see monkey do” doesn’t belong in a fitness routine unless you are very well-informed about the potential risks that accompany an exercise program…and you are willing to assume any of such risks at any given time.

You’ll be glad you came across this advice.

Do you ever feel compelled to copy what others do when they exercise? What are your thoughts on this?

How Important is Attitude In Weight Loss?

Waiting for his meal

If you step back for a moment and allow yourself to take a good, hard look at the reality of the situation Humanity is in…perhaps you’ll see what I see.

And what I see are a LOT of solutions to a problem that only seems to be getting bigger and bigger as the days, months and years pass.

Why is this?

How is it possible that in the presence of so many weight loss products and programs that society is, and forgive me for being so blunt, progressively getting fatter?

Well, I have my take on it.

And it isn’t as black and white as “eat this, don’t eat that and go exercise”.

No. It’s more than that.

Actually there are several factors at play…but today, I want to focus on attitude…as it plays an extremely important part in the overall well-being of all of us – and naturally spills over into our weight issues.

The Role of Attitude in Weight Loss

The reason I am in a position to discuss attitude in regard to weight loss and healthy living is because I have personally lived it.

I know first hand what a lousy attitude can create, and I know what an enthusiastic one can as well.

I had spent years (ok, fine decades) of my life in a pretty negative frame of mind.

I was in a constant state of internal resistance to my own body and as a result, I was extremely unbalanced. So given that I lived in a state of negativity, I’d have to say that it came as no surprise that it resulted in my inability to create and maintain a lifestyle that focused on well-being.

And when it comes to weight loss and weight management, such negativity is a disadvantage and can sabotage even the best efforts and behaviors.

Negativity and It’s Relationship to Well-Being

Now before I continue…I just want to say that I’m not promoting the new age concept of “ignore the negative and it will somehow magically go away”.

However, when we wallow in a state of negativity, we are only focused on everything we don’t want or like about our reality…whether it’s our bodies, relationships…and everything else.

That’s not to say that it isn’t of utmost importance to be completely honest about our negative circumstances.  This is because acknowledging them, accepting them and developing the ability to become emotionally Intelligent about our current situations allows us to see the Truth in the overall cause of the results we’re living with…and this is an important tool when it comes to making a change.

If you’re looking to lose weight, but you’re entertaining thoughts that sound like…

  • “I REALLY want to eat this, but I’m fat so I can’t”
  • “OMG I hate exercise – and my trainer…but I have to get through this workout.”
  • “I hate my body. I hate my thighs/ chest/ jiggly arms/ droopy butt/ belly, etc.”
  • “I keep doing the right things but I’m still not losing weight. This doesn’t work.”
  • “There’s nothing good to eat. This whole thing sucks.”

…then you’re creating more of everything you don’t want. You are focused on, and literally marinating in your own self-hate. In this internal environment, there is no room for anything else to exist.

Even if you did make some progress, it wouldn’t be enough to make you happy because you would be too absorbed in the dark thoughts to be able to recognize any of the positive changes taking place.

So let’s say that you’ve been ‘dieting and exercising’ for a month. If you hate the process, and yourself…then you could have lost 8-10 pounds…but in your opinion, that may not be nearly enough.

And if you watch any of those popular weight loss shows promoting up to 30 pounds of weight loss in a week (or even a month)…then your own ‘slow’ progress would only add to your frustration.

Under these circumstances, you are likely to either overtrain and undereat, or give up altogether…costing yourself the very thing you want because of your state of mind and overall perspective.

What Does a Positive Attitude Create?

Now when I talk about a positive attitude, I’m not promoting fluff and denial of what actually is.

A positive attitude in regard to weight loss recognizes the current state of things as they are…looks to identify the cause…and then makes changes from a place of accepting personal responsibility in one’s own participation of the results in their life.

They would see how the thoughts they have entertained throughout their lives worked against them…and they would seek balance by replacing the old thoughts with new ones that didn’t contradict the old ones, but did offer a realistic solution.

Such thoughts would sound like this:

  • “Of course I may have work to do. It took me a long time to get to where I am right now, and it may take some time to heal the damage. But I’m off to a great start.”
  • “Slow and steady really does win the race” (because it really does).
  • “I can have everything I want in the presence of balance. I am in the position I’m in now because I was unbalanced…and I’m thankful that I’m fixing that mindset now.”
  • I love the fact that I’m developing muscle underneath the fat that’s coming off. I can’t wait to see the body I am working to develop…and it makes me want to keep it up.”
  • “I feel stronger and have more energy and vigor. It’s so cool that I can do 20 squats now when a month ago I could barely do 1.”
  • “I LOVE that I’m open to new foods and recipes. I am now enjoying foods that I rejected in the past because I was stuck in a rut of eating the same unhealthy crap day in and day out.”
  • “I love preparing my own foods…and I’m saving a lot of money by not ordering out all the time.”

These are all thoughts that focus on well-being. In the presence of your efforts…the negative state of mind will cause you to resent yourself, the process and life in general.

And naturally, the positive attitude, while in full acceptance of your current reality, focuses on the benefits of what self-respect and healthy living bring to your life.

The difference…really makes a difference.

Do you See the benefits of shifting your mindset? How do you think you can get your thoughts to work for you instead of against you?

3 of my FAVORITE Healthy Living Documentaries

FF Doc Post

Watching documentaries is one of my favorite things to do in my spare time.

Anything that deals with healthy living, human consciousness and our current state of affairs are all topics that I enjoy putting my attention into.

And since the three aforementioned topics are all related to one another, if there’s a film that discusses what factors influence our habits and therefore, our overall lifestyle – then I feel it’s worth recommending.

We Become What We Focus On The Most

This is pretty much how it works.

Whatever we focus on expands (although this doesn’t mean that ignorance is bliss).

What it does mean, however, is that if there is something we want to do or become, then it only makes sense to surround ourselves with material that complements it.

So today, I’m going to share a few of my favorite documentaries that discuss the issues humanity faces today that have gotten in the way of obtaining the healthy lifestyles we all deserve while offering insights and ideas of how to achieve well-being on all levels.

Hungry For Change

HFC

Hungry For Change, created by the founders of Food Matters.tv, is an entertaining and educational documentary that focus on overall well-being as opposed to the simple topic of diet and exercise.

In this 90 minute film, you will be exposed to many of the secrets in the food, healthcare and pharmaceutical industry that play a huge role in the ill health that Humanity faces on a day to day basis.

There are a lot of well-known and credible health and wellness experts and truth seekers being interviewed – and all of them have their own wisdom to share with us.

And many others.

I personally LOVED this film and highly recommend it to anyone seeking the truth about the current situations that govern the overall health of society and want to know how to find a way to experience wellness for a lifetime.

What makes food addictive, how we form our habits and the effects that certain ingredients have on our overall health are just a few of the discussions that take place.

Check out the trailer.

The Cure Is (You)

The Cure Is

The Cure Is is another inspiring documentary that follows the lives of three cancer survivors as they speak about the role that health, wellness and spirituality played in their recovery.

The tone throughout the movie is very warm…and it goes into the overall cause(s) that contribute to the sickness we experience – and poses the question…

Do we need to wait until we experience disease (dis-ease) until we pay close attention to our health and how we treat ourselves?

The internal environment we live in (our thoughts and emotions) play just as important of a role as do our physical activities and habits.

Like Hungry For Change, the film includes an impressive list of authors, speakers, scientists and practitioners of health and wellness – all sharing a variety on information that incorporates the necessity of being well in mind, body and spirit.

You may recognize such names as:

And others.

It’s a magnificent film…and encourages the viewer to make well-being the overall focus of life…which naturally spills into the effects of weight management.

Here’s the trailer.

Genetic Roulette

GR

This documentary isn’t quite like the other two that I shared with you, however, the message is an important one that needs to be brought to everyone’s attention.

Genetic Roulette is an award winning film by Jeffrey M. Smith, a leading public health advocate and author of the bestselling book “Seeds of Deception”,

It discusses the topic of genetically modified organisms (gmos).

So what are gmos?

Well, the short answer, quoted right from the Non-GMO Project website, is:

“GMOs, or ‘genetically modified organisms,’ are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.”

The film goes on to discuss the role that gmos have quite possibly played in several of the health issues that humans (and pets) suffer from today while encouraging you to be mindful about gaining awareness of the ingredients in your food.

Unfortunately, genetic modification has been going on for quite some time now.

However, our awareness of it was relatively limited due to the lack of publicity by the mainstream media.

Thankfully, this documentary has picked up a large audience and as a result, it has sparked a huge movement in the demand for labeling foods containing gmos in an effort to create a well-informed public.

I highly recommend watching it – as it will leave you in a state of being that will give rise to wanting to practice mindful eating habits for the sake of your health and the health of your children…which help in regard to weight loss in and of itself.

Here’s the trailer.

There Are Many Others Out There

I’ll most likely write a sequel to this post…as there are several other documentaries that I can recommend. Today, however, I decided to focus on the ones that have made the biggest impact on me so far.

And since this site is about you – I’ll ask you to recommend any that you have seen and love in the comments section and I’ll add them in to the follow up post.

Do you like to watch documentaries about healthy living? Which ones have made the biggest impact on you? 

5 Simple Workouts for Busy Moms

mom exercises

 

A woman’s life is not as easy as it looks. She has to juggle between family, cooking, meeting the CEO and handling the groceries. The demands and constraints of these corporate employees, teachers and nursing women make it difficult for them to find out time for fitness. However, a little planning with some creativity can help even the busiest mothers sneak fitness into their daily routine. Here are five easy workouts, which can help the busy women feel stronger and look better in just a few weeks. [click to continue…]

Safety Tips for Exercising in the Heat

Tired woman sweating after running

One year when I was a teenager, I had spent a few weeks of my summer vacation in tennis camp.

I really loved it too!

In fact, one of my closest childhood friends attended the camp with me – which only made it that much better.

The only negative incident to be had throughout the entire experience, however, had to do with the fact that during my first day of camp I became lightheaded and dizzy; and as a result, I almost fainted.

The reason this happened was because I wasn’t used to spending a full day exercising in the heat…and my body didn’t hesitate to let me know.

I had to stop playing tennis and sit the rest of the day out…watching everyone else have fun.

While that was a bummer, and I felt a little embarrassed…the whole thing taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of making sure we take certain safety precautions when it comes to exercising in the heat.

And because I took the situation seriously and made sure I was prepared from then on out, I was able to enjoy the rest of the summer without further incident.

Exercising in the Heat

My experience as compared to others I’ve heard about was pretty mild.

Believe it or not, exercising in the heat can be fatal if you aren’t prepared – and there have been reports of such fatalities more often than we may realize.

Engaging in physical activity when it’s hot out is pretty common practice whether you’re involved in sports or simply taking outdoor fitness classes.

And while this is perfectly fine and can be a lot of fun, it’s important to understand that there are some safety precautions that if implemented, can mean the difference between a harmless experience, or one that causes damage.

So in an effort to help you avoid unnecessary injury or complications in your outdoor fitness routine, here are a few tips that will help you to stay safe while still having a great time.

Tip 1 – Slowly Acclimate Yourself to Exercising in the Heat

If you aren’t used to working out in extreme temperatures, it’s a good idea to ease your way into doing so.

A few easy ways to do this are:

  1. Start doing low intensity exercises such as walking while gradually increasing the length and intensity of each walk.
  2. Try to get your workouts in either early in the morning or in the early part of the evening when the sun isn’t as intense.
  3. Start to incorporate a few exercises outdoors during your regular indoor workout to get used to the heat. For example, if you do a triplex (a block of three exercises), start doing two of the three exercises indoors and do one outdoors. Once you have become acclimated to this, switch to doing one indoors and two outdoors.
  4. If you are new to exercise in general, consider swimming/doing water exercises. It’s a great way to get a work out in while keeping cool at the same time.

By deliberately easing your way into more extreme climates, you’ll reduce your risk of heat related injuries (such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke) while making the experience far more enjoyable.

Tip 2 – Stay Hydrated

Considering that the majority of our diets are made up of processed foods, in combination with our infatuation with coffee (which acts as a diuretic), the truth is that these behaviors can and do lead to dehydration.

This condition only intensifies when you add exercise into the mix – especially in extreme heat.

To avoid this, some easy to follow guidelines are:

  • Drink 16 oz of water approximately one hour or less prior to exercise.
  • Drink water throughout your workout as needed.
  • Replenish with at least another 16 oz of water after exercise.

Wear cool and comfortable clothing when working out in the heat and make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables since they contain water as well.

Tip 3 – Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable

While it isn’t wise to exercise on an empty stomach in general, it’s especially important to keep your energy levels up when you’re working out in extreme heat by making sure you have something in your system to properly fuel your workout.

Your best bet is to refrain from consuming anything heavy and instead, focus on light foods that are easy to digest (click here for some ideas).

This simple practice can mean the difference between a successful outdoor workout or one that results in injury and/or possible loss of consciousness.

Being Mindful

The tips mentioned here are just a few ways in which you can incorporate mindful behaviors before engaging in any strenuous activities in the heat.

As mentioned earlier, I have personally experienced the ill effects of being unprepared for exercising outdoors in the summertime.

While the consequences I endured were mild and forgiving, they don’t always work out that way for others…

…and this is why a little planning will go a long way.

 Have you had any close calls while exercising in the heat?