Well, my argument is that the majority of equipment in gyms is all but pointless. Most gyms these days have a huge variety of resistance machines which I believe are simply there for show, rather then any great practical reason. Ok I can see the point of the cardiovascular equipment like the treadmills or the rowing machines, but.....
What I advocate is free weights. But in the majority of gyms, free weights are almost looked down upon with only a small amount of floor space, (in comparison to resistance machines) given over to them, after all they're only a couple of weights on a bar aren't they, oh we cant have that can we, we have to have cables and pulleys and pads and clean shiny metal frames around it that makes the thing look like it belongs on the goddam space shuttle.
Free weights have several advantages over resistance machines.
1. They increase balance, co-ordination and stability.
2. The participant learns much better techniques to lift, push or pull weights around, which can be useful in everyday life, e.g. if a TV needs to be moved from one room to another, or a big plant pot needs to be moved.
3. Free weights are cheap as chips. Most resistance machines cost around £3000. If a gym concentrated more on free weights they could employ several more Personal Trainers.
4. Free weights use more muscles to perform the same exercise as resistance machines. These extra muscles act as stabilisers holding the body segment stable whilst performing the exercise. In real life if you wanted to lift something it would not be through cables and pulleys through one plane of movement, it would move where it wanted to and this is why it is Important to have strong stabiliser muscles. Ok just a quick example using the bicep curl. With a resistance machine only the bicep will be worked, its very focused. As a free weight the shoulders, chest, abdominals and back all come into play to hold the body stable.
5. Anyone who has used both free weights and resistance machines knows that it feels much more natural, and is much more satisfying to press out a free weight, be it a dumbell or barbell.
Now I know the advantages of resistance machines. That they are ideal for beginners to get some initial strength into the muscles. But all you need is the chest press, shoulder press, maybe a rower, and the leg press. Thats all you really need to get some inital strength in.
One resistance machine that I do use is the Lat Pulldown, to warm up for when I do pull-ups. Of course everyone cannot do pull-ups Especially overhand wide grip ones, which are a pain in the arse.
Thats my argument in favour of increased use of free weights. If you wanted to go further you could say lets not use free weights either. Press ups are a great exercise, as are pull-ups, working the whole of the upper body, and in the case of press ups, bringing the lower body into play in the role of stabilisers.
Anyways, lets move on. Next on my hit list, abdominal cradles. Most gyms have a shitload of these spread out on those mats. And people use them only because they see other people using them, and haven't been shown an alternative by the instructors.
I mean what is wrong with simply doing an abdominal curl on your own? The problem with cradles is that inevitably, when the ab's start to tire people press on the cradle with their hands, not really using the abdominals is it. It also eliminates the stabiliser muscles, mainly at the front of the neck. If you took someone who had been using a cradle all their life and got them to do 20 normal abdominal curls, they possibly wouldnt be able to, just because they didn't have the strength in the front of their necks to bring their head up off the floor. So basically, get rid of those goddam cradles that feel so bloody restrictive and just ask an instructor to show you your bog standard abdominal curl.
Right next, ermm a quick pop at treadmills. Yep ok, they're great if the wheathers crap, and if you get bored so want to run in front of one of those huge tv's. But if you went out and tried to run the same distance you do on the treadmill, out on the streets you'd be surprised how much harder it is, and this isn't because you might be running up hills, or the surface is different. It is due to the fact, that when you're running on a treadmill, all you are doing is bouncing along, the higher you bounce the more of the belt runs by underneath you, you are not actually propelling yourself forward in the same way you need to do when you run on the streets.
Ok, so you can see that if gyms adopted my ideas they would be very bare, people don’t like bare, if they're paying £50 a month membership fee, they want these nice high-tech machines, they like to feel intimidated by it all, it makes them feel like, yeah man, I’m a member of a gym, I use all these machines, and believe me, you don’t need to use all those machines. Most of them work the same areas of the body, you just have to make the right choice. I'll quickly tell you my routine ok.
Right, I do a 5 minute warm up by walking above my normal pace on the treadmill. This can take my resting heart rate of below 60, up to about 110, nice and slowly so I don’t feel like puking my guts up.
Then I do about 15 minutes of skipping, which is my cv workout. I do skipping because I find it much more interesting then running, rowing or cycling. You can do more variety with it. When you get good, so you can literally just jump 2 centimetres in the air to get over the rope it is extremely satisfying. And it requires a lot more co-ordination, then say cycling.
Then I put my skipping rope back in my locker. Back in the gym I do free weight squats to work my lower body. Then do press-up's, usually 3 sets of 20, sometimes I go crazy and see how many I can do in a row, my record is 60 at the moment, because my stabilisers start to go, basically my legs turn to jelly. Ermm I mix these in with free weights bicep curls.
Then I warm up on the Lat Pulldown for my pull-ups. Then I go and do over hand wide grip pull-ups, usually between 5-8 reps, and combine these with tricep dips, using my whole bodyweight.
Then I finish up with some abdominal curls.
So you can see there's not actually a great deal of variety in there, but I am managing to exercise all the major muscle groups.
Right, now a list of gripes, things that make me think, and mutter under my breath "Jesus Christ!"
1. People that "cheat" with free weights. You know when someones standing up doing bicep curls with a barbell, and they've got a huge weight on it, and everytime to get it up to their chest they're arching their back all over the place, and bending their knees, and its like, the point of the exercise is to work the biceps, so stand still and work your ficking biceps, if you cant lift it standing still take some goddam weight off! Of course it's blokes that do this.
2. People that lift weights like its a race. Slow down man! The only reason they do this is to make the exercise easier. Here's an idea, if you cant do it smoothly and slowly, take some weight off. Technique is so much more Important then weight.
3. People that sit on a machine for 5 minutes between sets. Get the fick off my machine scumbag!
4. People that hold a stretch for 2 seconds, if that. Pre stretches need to be held for 12 seconds, maintenance for 20, and developmental for 30.
5. So called Fitness Instructors that don’t do their jobs preperly, they don’t correct bad technique, they don’t hold stretches for the correct amount of time, they aren't even friendly, they don’t say hello, they don’t review and progress your program off their own back, they don’t come up to you and ask how you are and what your goals are. They're basically a bunch of dicks! I've been a member of several gyms, and they're all like this! Shambles.
Thats the end of that write up, now just downvote me