Gym is all about Techniques – Not the weights!
This marks Month 2 of my Fit Fab Journey at the Gym! And you won’t believe it… my sessions at the gym have taken a turn! It is still good with me increasing my stamina, my core strength and with me doing things I’ve never been able to do before. But now, I know how to do it right, and what makes it right! You see, Elinn my fabulous Personal Trainer is also my Physics Tutor now!
First, please allow me to give you some personal background. I have zero balancing sense all my life. When I was growing up, I had difficulty going up and down a grassy slope. I had to go up with my body bent, holding to little scraps of grass as I made my way up (woe to the grass!). And when my friends run down the slope in some race or another, I will be taking small tentative steps…and about 1/4 way through, I would be on my bum, doing a manual slide down. I always attribute it to “scardy cat” syndrome.
And when I’m on a crowded bus/train, I have to hold on to something for balance. I’ve stepped on a few toes literally and leaned unceremoniously on strangers for support many times! I can cycle but that’s about it. I can’t do the “No Hands” and definitely can’t do the skateboard, segway, hoverboard etc. I’m just unable to balance.
I didn’t think anything about it until recently. You see, in my training sessions with Elinn, I get lots of Physics mini-lectures about how our body moves, and how it responses when we move it in a certain direction.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve learnt thus far, in no particular order:
Lecture 1: How to Breathe
To many, breathing correctly when exercising comes naturally. Not me though.
I remember when I am working out, I would breathe in when Elinn says OUT, and when she goes breathe IN, I’m wooshing out. I thought it’s no big deal, as long as I am breathing. Haha! Recently, Elinn pointed out it’s time to learn how to breathe. And she explained, when we take in a breath, it is a way the body starts gathering energy, and when we breathe out, it expends that energy and we hence are able to lift that weight, make that push.
So now you know, before you run up that overhead bridge, you should be woooshing all the way!
Did you know that? I didn’t!
Lecture 2: How to climb stairs
We always think that steps are bad for knees. That’s because we use our knees to prop ourselves up. Elinn taught me something!
One of the basics of gym workouts is SQUATS. The purpose of a squat (done correctly) is to work your butt. We use our butt muscles to do each squat, and not our knees. She always asks me, Look at your knees. Now look at your butt. Which is bigger? Use the Big Butt muscles to lift your body, not that little knee.
So in that same way, when we walk UP the stairs, we should be using the same big butt muscles to lift out body up. There’s no strain on our knees at all that way. And when coming DOWN, practice controlling the muscles and not plop the entire body weight down. Ensure our knees don’t go beyond our foot (like in a squat), and this clears our knees from our thumping weight.
Please excuse me when you see me walking the stairs. I’m slower than usual, cos occasionally, I’ve to remind myself to use the right muscle!
Lecture 3: Which is the Biggest muscle in our body
As the above lecture, Elinn’s focus is always to develop and strengthen the right muscles. There are many gym equipment and endless exercises that we can embark on.
I am so aware now of the large muscles I have in my body: The Back, The Chest, The Butt, The Thighs… All these are what I should work on, to strengthen and tone them. Instead, the mistake is to use the commonly used muscles like Neck, Wrist, Knees, which are not designed to support so much weight.
See this simple exercise I’ve to do daily: Lie Down, Lift Arms, Squeeze Back Muscles. I started off thinking I’m working on my arms. But no! This is an exercise to work the back muscles…
Actually, i really like this picture! There’s actually some back muscles there!
Lecture 4: How to do the popular High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) effectively?
And with all the above in mind, it’s no wonder Elinn is very concerned when she hears of new exercise converts starting with HIIT. (I’m guilty too!)
Last year, some friends introduced Shaun T’s Insanity Workout. I read up and realised, it’s a really burn all the calories you have type of work out. And these friends who follow the videos are really losing weight and looking toned. (And they are also nearly 20 years younger than I am!)
Well, the husband and I tried. And it was really sweat producing, heart pumping. Music was fast, you keep moving and Shaun keeps encouraging you to keep at it! Alas, it was way too fast for me. I couldn’t keep up. His left became my right, his jump became my squat. So I stopped. But the husband continued… and continued… and started losing weight, and looking more toned. It really looked like Insanity Workout works!
Then one day, he couldn’t really move his arm. His back started to hurt. He realised he must have pulled something, or used the wrong muscle somewhere. You see, when we do HIIT, your main objective is to keep moving, and follow the video. There’s no time to watch your form, to check the correct muscles are used, to ensure right breathing. It’s always, let’s go, and 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and switch, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8!
So he stopped. and just focused on swimming. And when I started with Elinn, I found out the importance of FORM and POSTURE She doesn’t believe in quickly completing the exercise. In fact, to her, most if not all exercises, can be done slowly, to ensure the right parts are moving, and we are working on the correct muscle groups. We don’t have to be FAST to get the heart pumping. Try doing 20 slow squats in one sitting!
Don’t get me wrong. HIIT is ok, IF you know how to do each exercise correctly. From there, you can go do as fast as you want, and burn as much as you want. But If you are unfamiliar with squats, burpees, lunges etc, it is going to be you using those common muscles (which are usually not the right ones) to do these exercises!
So one big takeaway from my sessions with Elinn is TECHNIQUE… It’s so important to get our technique right. Once we get that, you have muscle memory, and when you do squats or any exercise, the right muscles naturally start work. And when the bus stops suddenly, your core muscles naturally tightens to hold you in place… and that’s how I can proudly say, I actually didn’t trip or fall over anyone during the recent train breakdowns! Although the sudden stops and brakes were there, I was able to stand still, without holding on to any rail or handle! Woohoooo!!!
Follow me on this fit & fab journey… It’s clearer each day that it’s not all about the kilograms! Find out more about E’s Fitness and Elinn (she’s the E behind E’s Fitness!) at the website or contact them at:
Address: No 51 Cantonment Road Singapore 089752
Tel: +65 6222 6517
*Disclaimer: We were given a trial period of Personal Training sessions to review, and no monetary compensation were involved. All opinions are as usual, 100% my own!