By Guest Blogger, Leigh Hawkins, Certified Fitness Systems:
Many people seek out exercise as a way to bring change into their life. Whether you are dealing with stress, health-related issues, or want to increase your quality of life, exercise has been shown to create a positive change in many ways. Along with the many benefits exercise offers, there are also risks involved (all drugs, even aspirin, have a risk and benefit). To help minimize the risks, people put their trust in exercise professionals. Exercise professionals may be found in magazines, on the internet, the latest DVD, or at the gym. As an exercise physiologist and personal trainer, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the dispensing of exercise advice and the lasting affects this decision may have on the body. Walking through the local gyms, I am seeing more people pushing themselves harder, moving faster, lifting heavier weights, and bending further. Whether one is trying to reach a certain goal, change their physical appearance, or has fallen so out of shape, it is amazing what they are willing to risk to create change.
My education and knowledge as an exercise physiologist has taught me an appreciation of the human body. Getting people to understand their own body and how to exercise appropriately is another story. Most people’s decisions about exercise are based on what’s on the outside, but it is what’s going on inside the body that is much more important. How much will one sacrifice to look a certain way? The choices you make about exercise today will impact how you function later in life. People become so involved in changing the way they look, that they sacrifice proper form and control, risking permanent damage to the joints. Explaining this to those looking for a quick fix can be difficult, but it is worth the effort if they can understand the long term affects of short term decisions. Rather than focusing on lifting more weight, moving faster, or performing more repetitions, one should focus on maintaining control of the body and the resistance (weight). The outcome of an exercise will only be as good as the precision of the motion performed, the position of the body, and the exact way it is challenged. It all boils down to the quality of each individual repetition. Stick to the details and your body will respond accordingly to each challenge. And your joints will thank you later in life.
It is my responsibility, as an exercise physiologist and personal trainer, to learn as much as possible about an individual’s structure and their physical abilities. Only then can I decide what challenges will be appropriate to help them reach their goals. They are investing time and money in their health, and trust me in taking care of their physical well- being. It is more important to train smarter, not harder. Next, it is up to me to decide what to do, how it needs to be done and then ensure it is done right.
It is up to you, the consumer, to seek a true exercise professional who knows what exercises are right for you, how they need to be done, and insure they are done correctly. And remember, “train smarter, not harder”.
Certified Fitness Systems
Leigh Hawkins, Exercise Physiologist/Owner
M.S., ACSM, NASM, CSCS, RTS
5950 Park South Dr. Ste. 501
Charlotte, NC 28210