Thinking of sticking to your New Year’s resolution and actually joining the gym this time? Way to go! We’ll make sure you look like a regular from the moment you walk through those doors by outlining the proper way to use the three most popular pieces of gym equipment.
The stationary bike
There are two kinds of stationary bikes out there: recumbent and upright. An upright bike is built like a regular bike, while a recumbent bike has a bucket seat so that the pedals are placed in front of you. A recumbent bike generally offers better back support and is more comfortable for people who suffer from lower back pain. It’s also great for toning your glutes!
There’s not much you can do wrong on a stationary bike. To make sure you avoid discomfort after your workout, adjust the seat height so that your leg extends to almost being straight when pedaling.
Remember to also fix the handlebar position so that your arms are extended at the same level as your shoulders.
Be sure you know how to adjust the speed before jumping on, or ask a staff member if you’re not sure. It’s a lot less embarrassing to ask for help than it is to find yourself flying off a treadmill!
When mounting the treadmill, don’t stand on the belt first. Rather, lean on the handrails as you position your feet on either side of the belt. Clip the safety kill switch to your clothes, if one exists, and then press “Start”.
Once the belt begins slowly moving, place one foot at a time on it to begin walking. Once you’re comfortable with the speed, you can then take your hands off the rails.
Don’t immediately increase the speed so that you’re running hard. Give your body time to warm up and get used to the treadmill. Remember to keep your back straight and your arms pumping smoothly at your sides in unison with your steps.
The rowing machine
Although there are many steps to practicing proper form on a rowing machine, they really are much simpler than they sound, so don’t let the following instructions worry you!
- When you first sit on the seat, make sure that the bones in your rear are centered, and the tops of your hamstrings are just barely touching the seat
- Place your feet in the footboards so that your toes aren’t hanging out over the edge, and adjust the straps
- Avoid gripping the handle too tightly. Keep your arms shoulder-width apart, and begin the rowing motion by pulling the handle into your chest
- Bend slightly forward at your waist, and then bend your knees. At this point, your hands should be sitting above your shins
- Keeping your back straight, bend your knees and slide the seat up as close to your heels as you can comfortably get, to where you’re slightly leaning forward
- Keeping your core muscles tight, you can then extend your legs until straightened. This is called the ‘drive’, and it’s where you get your power from for each stroke
- Swing from your hips, changing your position from leaning slightly forward to leaning slightly backward, while continuing to keep your back straight. Pull your arms in firmly, and bring the handle in quickly to your chest
- Now, push away as quickly as you pulled in, completely extending your arms. This stage is called the ‘recovery’
- Lean slightly forward, and as the handle clears your knees on its way back to its starting position, bend your knees and slide the seat forward, bringing your knees up inside of your arms
- And – whew! – You have just completed one rep!
Always remember to consult a physician before beginning any exercise regime. Remember to keep your core muscles engaged and stay hydrated. Don’t be afraid to ask a staff member for help, or even your fellow gym members. After all, you’re all there for the same reason!