Last week I was at my old gym at Glasgow Uni for a workout as you know and while I was there I had a bit of a realisation. I was standing in the weights area in between my lifting and just people watching. I love looking about and seeing what people get up to.
As I was watching them doing their lifts I saw a lot of people who clearly knew what they were doing and on the other hand quite a few people who didn’t. There was a lot of poor form and in some instances I felt like some of them could’ve really hurt themselves. I’m not in anyway saying that my form is always on point or that I’m an expert but I could clearly see that these people probably would’ve needed some form of coaching or help.
A lot of the time poor form is due to the fact that the person isn’t even aware of what they look like when they’re lifting or a lack of knowledge of what the lift should feel or look like. I used to be there. I had no idea what I was doing and deadlifts in particular was a movement I didn’t get at all no matter how much I tried. When I was standing there watching these people on their journeys, doing these movements because they want to get fitter I felt bad because they are trying so hard yet if someone would’ve just told them to readjust slightly, they would get a much more efficient workout plus, more importantly, avoid the risk of injury.
I started thinking, do more commercial gyms have a responsibility to their members to make sure they move properly? Who’s responsibility is it to make sure that they aren’t hurting themselves and keeping good form? At G5 we have Stella watching us but we are also often working in pairs where we help each other acknowledge what we’re doing to help improve our movement. This just doesn’t really happen in commercial gyms. I don’t have anything against Glasgow Uni gym at all, I think it’s one of the best gyms I’ve been to but I’m just thinking of the culture around these gyms and even more so the big chains such as Pure Gym and The Gym.
I see loads of staff walking about in these gyms but I feel like it’s not in the culture of a commercial gym for the staff, who are educated in training people, to make sure the members keep good form. I find it so scary and worry when people are lifting heavy weights without being aware of what muscles to engage. I wonder if these commercial gyms might change now when smaller gyms are on the rise offering coaching and advise whenever the members are in the gym. I hope so!
What are your thoughts on this? I’d love to hear your experiences. I know a lot of the time people want to be left alone when training and can take it personally when you try and help them, as if they don’t know as much. I wish there was more of culture of helping and supporting. I was standing there at the gym watching these two friends doing deadlifts without engaging their core so they had a caved back, it might work okay with lighter weights (if even that) but once you start lifting, that could have really bad consequences. I’m not at all saying all commercial or bigger gyms are like this at all but this is my general experience from going to quite a few of them.
It’s such a contrast from the smaller gyms I love going to where the coaching is very hands on and everyone is helping out everyone. You welcome the feedback and the tips to improve.
I know there are induction sessions you can sign up to when you join a new gym a lot of the time where they take you through all the equipment and such but maybe the solution is for the gym to have a more hands on approach with the members in their gyms? I suppose the issue is the staff aren’t being paid the right wages for them to have that hands on approach, which is fair enough and an increase in wages would result in pricier memberships. Additionally, it’s also a matter of what do the members pay for? Is it just the physical access to the facilities and the equipment? Is it knowledge and education? Is it one or the other? Is it both?
I know Glasgow Uni gym also offers weightlifting workshops at times as well but I know from my own experience, that you don’t really tend to do to go to these things and just think that what you’re doing is fine. Which is why again I think a more hands on approach on the gym floor could be the solution. Just walking up and quickly showing what they could improve and then move on rather than a full hour or two of coaching because it’s difficult to captivate people for that long who just want to be in and out.
I really hope you guys take this post the right way. I am not in anyway trying to be arrogant saying I know everything and all people who go to commercial gyms are rubbish. Commercial gyms are a great option for a lot people, you get access around the clock, which means there are no excuses to not get a workout in. It’s cheap meaning it’s financially viable for a larger group of the population to go. You can go to loads of different gyms with the same membership. I’m just thinking that the culture and the relationships within these commercial gyms maybe has to change to create a more supportive environment where members and staff are helping and learning from each other.
It was just a thought I had coming from a very different angle from where I was when I regularly went to bigger and more commercial gyms. Maybe it’s just me who’s so used to the culture of the smaller gym and actually I’m overreacting? It’s just interesting looking at something from a different perspective. Maybe the what’s going on in these gyms is how it should be and it’s the members responsibility to make sure they exercise within their abilities? We’re all adults after all and should be able to fend for ourselves. I’m not sure, which was why I wanted to bring it up and see what you guys thought! I’d love to hear. I’m trying to see both sides. At the end of the day all I wish is for people to not hurt themselves and for everyone enjoy exercising, however that happens 🙂