At The Gym
Source: Huffington Post
Similar to a hospital, you'd expect the gym to be a healthy and safe place. But also similar to a hospital, gyms can have lurking, hidden dangers that leave you injured or sick if you're not careful.
While this information isn't intended to scare you away from getting fit, it will hopefully keep you safe when you're at the gym.
Hidden Danger #1: Locker Rooms
It might surprise you to learn that infections caused by MRSA
(methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) kills more Americans
each year that AIDS, according to the Centers for Disease Control
. Unfortunately, I recently contracted MRSA from the dry sauna at my local gym. For me, it resulted in a trip to the emergency room, minor surgery, and lots of antibiotics. (You can read the chronicles of my horrible journey here
Hidden Danger #2: Weightlifting Machines
In "Learn All About Weightlifting Machines," you learn how to use
several popular machines at the gym. But just because an exercise machine is there, does not mean it's safe -- and there are some machines that should be completely avoided, even if you can do them with good form. In most cases, the machines you should try to avoid are:
-Machine side raise (locks your shoulders into a range of motion and can damage your rotator cuff)
Hidden Danger #3: High-Intensity Weight Training Classes
From Bodypump to Crossfit, high-intensity classes that combine cardio bursts and weight training seem to have taken the fitness world by storm. But unless you're in tip-top shape, it can be extremely difficult to maintain good form on the weight training part of the class if you're completely exhausted from the cardio part. I've frequently observed gym-goers struggling to contort their necks, shoulders, backs, and knees to follow the pace of the instructor, while at the same time putting themselves at serious risk of injury.
So before taking these type of classes, get yourself into shape by doing your own solo workouts that aren't under the pressure of a drill sergeant instructor, or take part in a class that lets you move at your own pace.
Hidden Danger #4: Spinning
Some spinning classes are very good. But many involve a high number of squats, hovers, push-ups, gyrations, hip thrusts, and other ridiculous moves that are not meant to be performed while you're pedaling a bicycle -- and these types of moves can put your shoulders and knees at a very high risk of injury.
No accredited indoor cycling certification programs teaches these types of activities, but they're still used by instructors at many gyms. So if your spinning class instructor makes you feel as though you can't simply sit and pedal correctly for more than 15, 30, or even 60 seconds without having to flap your arms or jump up and down, you should find a new class. (Click here
to see two videos that show the type of spinning classes to avoid.)
Hidden Danger #5: The Smoothie Bar
Just because a food is sold at a health club does not mean it's healthy! In the article
"Is Your Protein Bar Healthy?" I discuss how the average protein bar can contain many unhealthy ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, fractionated palm kernel oil, artificial sweeteners, wheat, rice, or other refined sugars, and high amounts of gut-wrenching sugar alcohols.
But it doesn't stop at protein bars. Many smoothies prepared and sold at your gym are made from sugar concentrates combined with highly processed protein powders and vegetable oils -- and typically dumped into a 20- to 24-oz. cup that allow you to easily suck down 600-1,000 calories in just a few minutes. Many a dutiful gym-goer slaves away on a treadmill for an hour, then grabs a smoothie on their way out the door that contains nearly twice the calories they actually burned during the workout!
If you do need to grab a smoothie, look for something prepared with fresh fruit, not concentrate. If you need a protein bar, choose one with minimal ingredients (such as fruits and nuts), raw nuts and seeds, or rice crisps. And only use these foods as a quick snack to tide you over until you can get a real meal, and not as staples in your diet.