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Unsafe Exercise Practices

How To Injure Your Clients

And I don't mean injured feelings.  Here are some goodies gleaned from the misc.fitness. newsgroups, participants thereof, and from careful studies of med texts.

  • Reverse Turns
    • A prime offender in the area of the knee.  The reverse turn puts shear stresses of up to 7X body weight on the knee upon stepping up backward onto the bench.  Additionally, the move requires external rotation both of the femur, and of the knee joint against an essentially fixed lower leg.  If that's not enough, stepping off at the far end is an off-balance move, just asking for a fall.  Here, I editorialize a bit... I had a discussion with an Aerobics Director, who shall remain nameless, who stated that her classes could do reverse turns since they were "advanced".  I made no friends that day, when I challenged her comprehension of human biomechanics.  I don't care how "advanced" your people are; their knees and other joints work the same as the beginners'.  Don't do this move with your classes, if you really care about your clients!
  • Hand Weights in Hi-Lo
    • It's hard to get some folks to stop doing this.  I've lost one or two clients in my classes because I absolutely forbid it, and will stop a class and directly tell a client to put the weights down, if s/he doesn't "get" a couple of broad hints.  In this case, I don't care about the loss.  Better than a lawsuit or two, when the client's joints get injured from the pounding, or a weight suddenly slips out of a hand, and comes to rest against someone else's head.
  • Jumping Down Off The Bench
    • Seems innocuous enough, but it's heavy-duty impact.  Couple that with the fact that many of our clients will do that in a straddle, and you're asking for trouble.  I don't want my clients to have bad ankles and/or knees, and I tell them so.  I also tell them that it's much more effective to expend the effort jumping up onto the bench.  Folks who play basketball, volleyball, or any other sport where vertical jumps are useful, will thank you for the tip!
  • Letting Your Clients Eat Nothing Before A Class, and Saying Nothing
    • I put this right up there with the "What the Hell were you thinking?!" Questions Of The Decade.  You might discover the hard way, like, having somebody pass out on the step bench, that eating before significant exercise is right up there with the Really Good Ideas!  Tell your clients to eat something carbohydrate-ish, preferably something fueled by fructose or some other low-GI carb, about an hour before the class.  They don't have to eat the same amount as the calories they will expend -- they do have to eat enough to maintain brain function.  A banana, an orange or apple, or some fruit juice (100% juice -- not one of the "cocktail" types, which usually contain "high-fructose corn syrup" or plain sugar).   Be certain that your clients are informed about nutrition, as well as exercise.
  • Multiple Ad Nauseam Reps With Eentsy-Beentsy Weights
    • Technically, this won't harm your clients, but it won't do them a whole lot of good, either.  Your clients want to "tone".  You want them to get good muscle definition.  Most of them have no problem doing 375 reps with a 2-lb hand weight.  What's wrong with this picture?  In order to get good definition, you have to remove some subcutaneous fat.  You don't do that by pumping tiny iron.  You do it by working their butts off on the aerobics floor, then working 'em off again with significant weight.  That's defined by me and other HIT-ers as weight which causes fatigue (possibly even muscle failure) in fewer than 15 reps.   You do your clients no favor by catering to the "I can't possibly lift 10 pounds" whine in your classes.  Illustrate it for them.  The baby weighs 12 pounds.  A gallon of milk weighs about 8.  They pick both up repeatedly without even a thought, but stick a weight rack in front of  'em, and they immediately go for the cute pink 2-pounders.  Take the durn 2-lb weights, throw 'em in a box with the 1's and 3's, and hide 'em in some dark closet.  They're great for rehab or "Seniors" classes (and I cannot tell you just how much I hate that term!!), useless for just about anything else but paperweights.  Oh, you can keep a couple sets around for people with injuries, Verry Verry Beginners, or the few folks who have other difficulties with heavier weights -- but the bulk of your folks should be touching nothing lighter than 5-lb, and at least get them to try 8-lbs at the low limit!
And with those thoughts, I'll leave you to work on your next classes.  Remember that I'm not infallible, and that disagreeing with me doesn't make you my enemy, nor me yours.

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