A few years ago we remodelled our basement and turned the majority of it into a training studio. Some of the gyms or clubs I worked at or worked out in over the years either didn’t have what I thought were sufficient mirrors or had mirrors in weird and useless places. So, I put a very high priority on having a whole bunch of mirrors to be able to see what you were doing from just about any place in the room. I have grown quite accustomed to always having a mirror close by and I wouldn’t change a thing. Or would I?
So, you probably get why I would want mirrors. Of course I want to be able to check my own form while working out and more importantly, it makes cueing my client’s form a whole lot easier and I feel like it takes a client less time to get what I am saying or to be able to correct a movement. So for those reasons, I wouldn’t change a thing.
However, I think the mirrors might be making me lazy and they may be making you lazy too. Lazy might not be the right word, but, there is a good chance they keep you from connecting with how the movement feels.
Why do I say this, you ask? Well, it isn’t very often that I am working out in a place without lots of mirrors. The first time I went on vacation after having the studio put in, I went to our cabin and at the time, there were no mirrors there at all. I always workout when I am at the cabin and I am reminded of some really important things about mirrors every time I go.
Bad form is bad form and yes, it does happen with or without mirrors. For most people who are not trained professionals, when working on some new exercises, a mirror can be very helpful. It may stop bad form.
Good form for one person may look a little different than good form for another. I’m not talking about huge crazy differences here. Everyone’s body is different and though we, as trainers, are trained to look at movement, and I agree the visual is of top priority, it’s equally as important to know what the client feels. I think sometimes we may get caught up in how it looks more than what the client is feeling and whether or not they are connecting with the movement.
I think that using a mirror for every workout can create a disconnect between you and your body. For example, I stopped doing Romanian dead lifts awhile ago because I always feel it in my back. It seems no matter what I did to adjust my form in the mirror, I still felt it in my back. Instead of playing around with the movement and what I felt, I was relying heavily on what I thought my form should look like. By using the mirror, I shut off the part of my brain that told me what I felt. I was strictly going by what I saw in the mirror. I was pretty much unaware of this until I worked out without a mirror.
When I recently went up north and decided to do Romanian dead lifts, low and behold, no pain. I sure was sore the next day and all in the right places. I had to reconnect with my body without seeing the movement. I had to feel what I was supposed to feel. All I had to rely on was what I felt.
Now, keep in mind, the RDL I was doing at home in front of the mirror is what we, as trainers, would give a thumbs up. In fact, when I have had sessions with other trainers I had gotten a thumbs up. Just another really important reason to always communicate with your trainer exactly what you feel. If you are working out on your own, really connect with what you are supposed to feel. If you don’t know what you are supposed to feel, find out.
If you usually workout in front of a mirror, try it without at least once a week. If you take classes and are usually in the front row so that you have the best mirror view and instructor view, try giving yourself a whole new workout by taking it to the back of the class. Take your workout outside and really connect with what you want to feel. It’ll do you some good and keep you feeling challenged and connected.