Form Matters

I went to the gym today (we have one in Homer – it’s small, but it works) to do my semiweekly (or is it biweekly – twice a week) weight workout that my running coach makes (ok – begs) me to do. I hate weights (my standard reaction to anyone that suggests we go lift weights is that jews don’t do weights), but I capitulate to my coach.

The gym was pretty full (by Homer standards – about ten people). While I was resting between sets, I stretched and looked at the other folks working out (something I never do in a large club – I end up in with my eyes in that “glazed over not looking at anyone or anything mode.”) I was stunned by what I saw. There was a guy on a stairmaster that was literally hunched over at a 90 degree angle to his legs reading a magazine while he lifted his legs straight up. Another guys was riding a bike, but had his chest lying on the bike readout / reading stand thing – again – almost bent over at 90 degrees. Both of these guys looked brutalized after about 10 minutes of jamming their legs up and down at a weird angle to the rest of their contorted body.

In contrast, there was a woman about my age that was doing a workout that was similar to mine. Her form was perfect and it showed – her muscles were well defined, she was calm during her workout, and was moving about twice the weight I was with what appeared to be moderate effort. She noticed the hunchbacks also at some point and nodded to me – pointing at them – as we passed during a break. She was extremely aware of her form – not because anyone was watching her (I don’t give myself that much credit), but because she knew the benefit of perfect form to what she was trying to accomplish.

As I settled into another set, I consciously thought about how I was sitting, what I was doing, and how the various parts of my body were moving to accomplish the task at hand. It’s a good metaphor for so much of life – if you pay attention to your form, you get better results.

  • Brad, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Working out can be such a great metaphor for all of your life. Going through the motions vs. executing an exercise with proper form attention is the difference between “I’m not getting any results from my workouts” and “WOW! Look at the results I’m getting from my short, focused workouts.”

    Another way to look at it is that these people also were not paying ATTENTION but were reading magazines. Their intention and attention was elsewhere, much like it may be elsewhere during their work, or their family time. And not to pick on just them. I personally find it always a challenge to be present during my work, my social time, or my workouts. What is that zen saying – Monkey Mind? Always running off somewhere else unless we bring it back to the moment and task at hand.

    A third view on this is the difference between focus on process (I went to the gym but got nowhere!) and result (I work out intensely and with great form and see it creating results week-by-week…and if I don’t, I figure out why.)

    You saw a lifetime’s worth of lessons in your gym!

    And yes, it’s bi-weekly for twice per week and semi-weekly for every second week.

    Keep up the workouts! And the blogging.

    Troy Angrignon, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

  • In working closely day after day with others, disagreements are bound to arise. ,

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