Let’s see a show of hands… How many of you have taken a group class or worked out in a facility with others present and looked left or right to see what the person next to you is doing and then tried to copy them?
My hand is up and I’m guessing yours is too! When we aren’t sure what to do or even when we are trying to improve, it’s common to compare ourselves to those around us. Here’s why that may not be such a good idea:
Are you sure the person next to you is doing the move correctly or using the right form? Unless it’s the instructor – you may be mimicking someone else’s mistakes. If you aren’t sure – ask the instructor to check your form.
All of our bodies are different. Sometimes the differences are slight and sometimes they are pretty obvious. For example, I might be a little less flexible than the next person or my legs might be a foot shorter! These things make a difference in what you look like performing an exercise.
We all have our own range of motion. And it varies by body part. You may have loose hips but tight shoulders. It’s important to get in touch with your body and learn your range of motion. You can’t improve what you aren’t aware of!
Here’s what happens when you try to copy your neighbor and exceed your range of motion:
1. Double Straight leg lowers in mat class (lying on back – press both legs together and slowly lower from 90 degrees towards the floor) – until you core is strong, you may not be able to lower your legs very far without your back arching. If you choose to ignore this red flag/stopper from your body and lower away – not only are you risking hurting your back – you are also not effectively working your core! By exceeding your range of motion your core quits and your back is strained as it tries to take over. Repeatedly doing this will not improve your core as you desire – and may send you to the chiropractor with back issues. A smarter approach – respect your ROM and watch it grow as you get stronger!
2. Leg circles on the reformers – while it can be fun to make our circles as big as possible, for this exercise to be effective our pelvis needs to remain still. If you don’t have the strength or range of motion for larger circles and still try them – your pelvis is shaking and moving like Shakira! Part of the work of this exercise is stabilizing the pelvic muscles, and to do that we can’t have that pelvis moving all over.
Those are just a few examples of why respecting your ROM (range of motion) and sometimes making movements smaller will lead to better results. If you come to one of my classes or book a private/duet/trio with me – I’ll be keeping an eye on you! And you may be surprised how quickly you can improve when you pay attention and stay within your ROM.