Achieving the Perfect Fitness Fit: The Importance of Ergonomics in the Gym
By Mark Volf, Manager, Glenwood Hot Springs Athletic Club
Most people are familiar with ergonomics as it applies to the workplace: keyboards that provide support for your wrists and reduce the incidence of carpel tunnel syndrome or specialized chairs that correctly align the spine to reduce fatigue and workplace injury are just a couple of examples. But the benefits of ergonomics shouldn’t be limited to the confines of the office cubicle. Ergonomic processes are just as important in the gym setting, and could mean the difference between a game-changing fitness routine and one that goes belly-up.
1. Ergonomics improves your performance. In the office or at the gym, poor ergonomics can lead to frustration and fatigue. That’s why it’s important to take the time to adjust single-station fitness equipment to fit your body. For example, when using a leg extension machine, be sure your knees are in proper alignment according for the machine you are using. This will encourage full contraction of the quadriceps.
2. Ergonomics simplifies your tasks. Properly designed fitness equipment should make your workout easier, but not the way you might think. It’s not about how much weight you’re moving, but how you’re moving the weight. Features like those found in the Matrix G7 line, for instance, are designed for ease of use. Most fitness equipment comes with an easy-to-read placard that illustrates how to use the equipment. In addition to placards, the newest lines of fitness equipment, like Matrix, come with a USB codes. You can scan the USB code with your smartphone and instantly watch a short instructional video about that piece of equipment!
3. Ergonomics is personal. Whether you’re a giant, vertically challenged, or have limited flexibility due to an injury or surgery, you should still be able to work out effectively. High quality fitness equipment provides the flexibility to fine tune adjustments like weight increments and range-of-motion to meet your individual physical needs.
4. Ergonomics for specific jobs. In a factory, an office or in the gym, ergonomics helps people do specific jobs more comfortably, enabling them to work or workout more efficiently. A multi-functional trainer is a standard piece of equipment in most gyms. It’s designed to give the user options and can challenge everyone from the weekend warrior to serious athletes. Our functional trainer, for instance allows you to perform more than 200 different exercises including sport-specific training for golf, baseball, rowing, rock climbing and run-based sports like football and basketball.
5. Ergonomics improves your safety. Proper form and technique can help you reach your fitness goals such as increased strength and muscle tone, weight loss or improved bone density, but poor form can quickly sideline you or take you out of the game indefinitely. There is nothing more frustrating than having to take a break from a successful workout routine due to an injury. According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, between 1990 and 2007, 25,335 weight training injuries were seen in US emergency departments, correlating to an estimated 970,801 injuries nationwide. The most common diagnosis (46%) was sprain or strain.
6. Ergonomics saves you money. It’s a simple, sensible equation. If you reduce the risk of injury, you reduce your medical care costs. Working out is all about improving fitness and staying healthy. Using equipment properly and employing proper technique will help keep you safe.
With these benefits in mind, take what you know about workplace ergonomics and apply it to your workout at the gym. You might just find with a few minor adjustments, your fitness routine is on target to meet with success.