Top 10 things you’re doing wrong in the gym

Tips from trainer Gail P. Jones


There are plenty of gym-goers who get my eyes rolling.

There’s the guy who does two grunting reps, throws his weights on the floor, and then spends fifteen minutes at the water fountain (and probably spits in it). There’s the woman who gabs to her trainer about the dearth of dateable men and fits in three crunches before calling it a day. There’s the guy who wanders around the gym for an hour and leans on a Stairmaster to get a better look at the TV but does no discernible exercising at all.

Gail P. Jones is a bit more enlightened than I am. The Decatur-based certified trainer, competitive athlete and fitness guru—in the business for more than 20 years—gives a side-eye not to the annoying gym-goers, but to the ones who are doing things wrong.

She’s worried they could be hurting themselves and their fitness in the process.

Here is her Top 10 List of Things People Do Wrong at the Gym:

1. Staying in the same routine.
Our bodies are built to adapt. Change it up.

2. Letting the time tick away.
Use a stopwatch the next time you meet with your trainer for a thirty-minute session. Are you really working for that period of time, or are you spending most of it chit-chatting with the trainer? If you are working, are you working as hard as you can, to get the most out of your time and money? There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. And it’s not just you—your trainer needs to be held accountable, and should push you as far as you can go.

3. Thinking that an occasional meeting with a trainer is enough.
Use what you learn and incorporate it into a regular fitness routine.

4. Assuming that big weight will mean big results.
More often than not, clients assume they should add on weight when they’re lifting, but that often causes them to lose their form. Joints can get demolished. If it hurts and feels wrong, it probably is, and it can do long-term damage.

5. Setting outrageous goals, going too hard and burning out.
For some people it’s great to set a big goal like a marathon or a triathlon. But remember that fitness should be a lifelong endeavor, not just something you push yourself to do for one event. In some cases, forcing yourself to prepare for a gigantic event will burn you out and cause injuries. Be reasonable, and make exercise a consistent part of your day.

6. Skipping yoga when you do circuit training.

7. Skipping circuit training when you do yoga.

8. Foregoing professional help.
You can realize your best results if you have some kind of guidance from a personal trainer. That person can help to ensure your form is correct and that you’re getting the most out of your weight-training and cardio.

9. Hanging on to a cardio machine while working out.
It’s tempting to slump over the handlebars of a Stairmaster while you make your way up flight after flight. But proper form is very important, and ensures you get the most out of your workout.

10. Starting an exercise program. Then stopping. Then starting again. Then stopping.
So you want to lose some weight for your reunion. Fine. Use that as a catalyst to start a consistent fitness regimen. Sure, on “The Biggest Loser” they eat 400 calories and work out six hours a day and lose a bunch of weight. But that’s not sustainable, and it’s not healthy. Find something that works for you. Be active every day.