Perfect the Details to Turn Up Your Workout
Sculpting classes succeed or fail on the little things. Often what you’re doing with the rest of your body will make an exercise harder than it should be or at least less effective than it could be. Improper form is often seen in exercise newbies, but not exclusively, and we all need reminders when our bodies or minds are flagging. If you’ve never tried a barre or dance-based fitness class, a flexible gym pass is a great way to test the waters, as you can try classes in addition to using the weights and machines.
Following are some common bad habits and the good habits you’ll want to develop instead. The good news is that you can start doing all of these right away, without advanced training, magic wands, or anything other than your own intention.
Slouching and slumping
Ouch, it hurts just to look at. More to the point, it hurts to do, especially when you’re exercising. Why would you want to look like a marshmallow on legs? Often, the pain in your hips, lumbar region, or between your shoulder blades can be fixed by fixing your posture.
Fix it: Have you heard it a million times from your mother and teachers? Shoulders back and down, lower abdomen pulled in, pelvis lightly tucked, chin level. Look at yourself in one of those many mirrors and stand up like you mean business. Don’t lean against the wall, the barre, or your friend. This includes between sets and when the instructor is talking – this is a habit that will infuse your practice with the right attitude.
For many of us, desk-bound days result in slumpy posture. The muscles around our spine are like any other muscles: they need training. If you are unaccustomed to good posture, your back will feel fatigued when you first start breaking the slouch habit. Put little reminders around your office or home to check in with your posture.
Often when doing the movements on one side, students seem to forget that they have other body parts. The parts that are “not working” should not just be sitting there all rumpled.
Fix it: The barre is not an armrest. Unless specifically instructed, don’t keep your whole forearm on it. Keep your elbow lifted, your arm muscles engaged, and your shoulders even. In squats or plies, model the instructor’s form in feet, pelvis, and hip position.
Having a death grip
If you need to keep a death grip on something for balance, it’s likely that you’re fatigued, your alignment is off, or your core isn’t properly engaged.
Fix it: First, check your position, especially through your whole pelvic bowl. Get everything straightened up before continuing the movements. You can’t maintain your balance without an engaged core.
If you’re getting fatigued and gripping something for support, you’re not doing the movements correctly – which is kind of like not doing them at all. It’s better to skip repetitions with good form than to struggle through every one with poor form. So if the class is doing a quick eight-count of heel lifts, go ahead and do every other one if it means maintaining your form.
When doing floor work, especially leg lifts and planks, don’t let your head just hang there. The rest of your body will want to follow the direction of your head, and soon you’ll be sinking in the shoulders, back, and arms.
Fix it: Again, check in with yourself during the movements, especially if you’re tired. Will a red rubber band around your wrist help you to remember to check your form? Keep your chin tucked and your back and neck muscles engaged. You should be able to look straight at the floor. During leg lifts, keep an eye on your elbows and shoulders and straighten back up if they’re bent and sinking.
Another piece of good news to close: Fixing your form will actually make the movements easier; slumping, sinking, and sloppiness divert energy from the parts that are actively working and puts it to the parts that aren’t. Proper form will mean less fatigue and better results.
To find out how you can try classes without committing to a full membership, visit PayAsUGym.