The second semester is under way and I wanted to welcome you all to 2014.  I hope we can make it a healthy and prosperous year.  If you were in the gym yesterday, you may have noticed something new.  It isn’t a shiny new piece of equipment or some fancy training tool; it is simply a mirror.  I have provided it for the purpose of improving the way that you work out.

As humans, it is natural to seek recognition (either personal or from someone else) in order to confirm that you are on the right path.  Before you leave your house you usually check the mirror; similarly when you are working on a paper you want someone to proofread it.  In the gym setting, it is not only important to your outcome that you ensure proper form and posture, but it is important to your safety.  I wanted to take some time today to discuss proper etiquette and use of the mirror in a gym setting.

When I walk around the gym and help students improve their exercise form, it is sometimes difficult to describe what they are doing wrong and how it can be improved.  The mirror provides a visual aid to assist them.  Even if you are not an avid exerciser or someone who has impeccable form, it is easy to tell when you are under control and when you are moving wildly.  Generally speaking, all weight training should be done in a smooth and controlled manner.  While viewing yourself in the mirror, this should be your first thing to notice.  Secondly, it is important that you complete a full range of motion.  This means that you bring the resistance from its starting point to the point of completion.  For example, in the shoulder press your elbows should be extended and your arm over the head.   It can be difficult to look for this without the aid of a mirror.  The mirror is also a great way to check your surroundings and ensure that you have a safe area to complete your exercise.  There are many moving bodies in a gym setting and some may invade your space.  It is important to understand where people are.

As with other factors in the gym, etiquette is a must.  Just as you might let someone share an exercise machine, you should share the space on the mirror.  Be sure to not take up the whole area; don’t stand inches away and limit anyone else from using it.  Always keep a safe distance from the mirror to keep it clean and free from marks.  And finally, don’t walk up a flex your muscles.  Everyone in the gym is there to improve their physique.  Not only will this make you look like a fool, it is also a false sense of accomplishment.  Any swelling of the muscle immediately after exercise is due to increased blood flow and not immediate muscular gain.

I hope this helped you to understand the importance and use of the mirror while at the gym.  I look forward to seeing it put to good use.