3 reasons NOT to take those free gym classes

I think almost every trainer harbors some disdain for those free classes at the gym.

They seem like a great deal. They are usually scheduled at convenient times and hey! They are free with your gym membership.

The hyper instructor is usually bursting with enthusiastic or deprecating encouragement. By the end, you’re done. Pooped. Spent. That was a great work out. Right?

Here are a few things to consider:

The crimes against humanity committed by broken form are epidemic

I critique group classes from the unique position of having taught one of my own. When I tell you the things that people have told me that other instructors told them to do broke my heart and killed my soul, I’m not kidding. They were things that are blatantly incorrect. Things that are actually harmful. Of course, there are certified trainers I have overheard giving horrible advice, but this seems especially common in group class scenarios, where the emphasis is on speed and numbers rather than form and accuracy.

Too much emphasis on the anterior muscle group

Sit-ups, crunches, push ups, bicep curls. All of those “glamour muscles.” They aren’t as important as the muscles on the back of your body. Along with bad form left and right, the exercises that are most prevalent in these classes are exercises that, if not counterbalanced by opposing movements, will actually wreak havoc on your posture. Think about it, if you sit at a desk all day, you are already crunching and hunching and then you go to class and crunch some more. Those back muscles and your butt need some work. No, you can’t see them, but they do more for the integrity of your body that the ones you can see. You need variety for your body to stay happy and balanced.

I don’t want to have to think about what I’m doing

You've heard this from me before, and it's fine if you don’t want to have to come up with your own workout, but if your aim is to tune out and not pay attention to your body, you’re asking for trouble. Exercise should be mindful. Injury happens when it's not. I know that when the instructor is yelling at you to go harder even though you can barely breathe, it seems like a great idea to close your eyes and imagine you’re anywhere else but where you are doing anything other than what you’re doing. Just get through it. But that’s when the snap happens, or the crunch, or the click… If exercise has taught me anything, it’s that NOT being present in your body when you’re using it is a fast ticket to chronic pain and injury. Stop trying to solve the world's problems or figuring out what to make for dinner while you’re on your 50th burpee (ew!).

I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t take those classes.

I am just saying it’s not the only thing you should do.

If you like the camaraderie of working out with friends, get some of your buddies together to go lift with you every other workout instead of those classes.

Your body will thank you.