Given the far-reaching ignorant and even reckless use of gym equipment, I write the following with a full understanding of its magnitude: No equipment in the gym falls victim to more mistakes, blunders and downright wasted motion than the poor cardio machines.
First, a simple tip. When you ride the stationary bike, always use the pedal straps. If you start wheeling around like a three-year-old on a tricycle, you deprive yourself of 50 percent of the workout – the stress on the hamstring that comes from the upstroke.
On the treadmill, keep your hands to yourself. Every day, I see hands locked to the top of dashboards, fingers wrapped around front handles, and hands gripping side rails. When you use your arms to pull yourself along, the solid workout that comes from even a simple brisk walk gets transferred to a bunch of rubber and plastic. Remember, until Skynet goes active, we still control the machines. If you can’t survive your workout without clinging to the treadmill, lower the incline, reduce the speed.
Then there’s the StairMaster. We’ve got riders draping themselves over the machine like an oversized towel; people inverting their grip – with elbows locked out – so feet barely touch pedals; folks engrossed in books, journals and all manner of periodicals propped up at eye level while supposedly “working out”; and people cranking machines to a speed that forces them to hang onto the stepper’s front handles for dear life. Guys: head up, back straight, side rails used only for balance. I know it’s hard. That’s why it’s called … exercise.
One last thing. If you’re staring at a row of empty treadmills, don’t climb onto the one exactly next to me. Put at least one machine between me and your coughing and sweating. This same rule also applies to seating in a movie theatre.*
*Sophia Vergara exempted.