Overtraining or training incorrectly can lead to many injuries, and it’s not always obvious how you got them. For example, many people sustain injuries to their knees because they don’t know how to perform squats or lunges properly – keeping the knees in line with the toes, and never letting the knees pass the toes. Another way to injure yourself is by setting equipment to the highest level in an attempt to increase fitness – this puts too much strain on joints and muscles, and leads to nasty injuries that can take weeks to heal.
Not understanding how equipment works can also put you at risk – we’re all guilty of jumping onto a new piece of machinery at the gym without having a clue how it works, but sometimes the simplest things can cause the greatest harm. Many people sustain nasty head injuries or ankle sprains from running on the treadmill without paying attention to their surroundings, or where the stop buttons are on the screen. Weights machines can cause nasty injury when set at a weight that isn’t achievable – fitness needs to be built gradually!
Ignoring the offer of an induction is pointless, even if you’ve been going to the gym for years. It gives you the perfect opportunity to ask questions about the gym, whether the instructors are first aid trained and what qualifies them to be instructors in the first place. You can find out about equipment you haven’t come across before, useful new exercises – it’s arrogant to think you know it all, for the sake of a 30 minute induction!
Finally, as I just mentioned, remember to check out the instructors working at your fitness club. If you never follow their advice, then great, ignore them and carry on! But if you rely on them for any kind of training or workout guides, find out whether they actually know their stuff. Being a fitness instructor could mean you went and trained up, gained qualifications and learnt how to teach fitness. It could also mean you were a fitness fanatic, didn’t know what job you wanted and got employed at a local gym as a trainer – without any solid grounding in the subject! Check out the staff and find out if they’ll be of any use to you, or if they will simply have you injuring yourself with useless techniques and exercises.