Gym equipment can help you develop a strong, healthy body -- or it can cause serious injuries. If you educate yourself on the exercise equipment you use and consult with fitness professionals, you’ll increase your chances of a safe and effective workout. But if you march into a gym unprepared and unwilling to spend time learning how the equipment works, you’re asking for trouble.
Any piece of equipment can be dangerous if you use it incorrectly. For example, exercising with poor form or overly heavy weights can result in a muscle pull or tear that sidelines you for months. If you are new to a form of exercise or piece of equipment, ask a certified fitness professional to show you the basics and help you perfect your form. Also, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, check with your doctor before making any changes to your fitness program.
Malfunction and Wear
Like any mechanical device, gym equipment needs regular upkeep. Cables and pulleys wear with use, padding tears and shifts, and nuts and bolts loosen. If you have a home gym, follow the manufacturer’s suggestions for maintenance and replacement. A commercial gym's staff should check and repair its equipment regularly. If you notice problems, tell the gym management before someone hurts herself. If that fails, find a gym that respects its members’ safety.
Getting excited about your fitness progress is understandable, but don’t lose your head. Over-reaching can be dangerous when using gym equipment. Aim for steady, reasonable progress. For example, increase your treadmill speed in small increments, taking time to ensure you can handle the faster pace. Similarly, don’t drastically alter the weight setting on resistance machines or carelessly throw a stack of heavy weight plates onto a barbell. Chances are you’ll hurt yourself if you try to shift weights your body isn’t prepared for. Instead, increase weight in small increments, and only when your current weight amount becomes so easy it stops being challenging.
Free weights, especially barbells, can be dangerous. For example, if during a bench press your body gets caught underneath a barbell loaded with heavy plates, it can crush your chest or. Ask a spotter for assistance if you have even the slightest doubt about being able to safely return a barbell to the rack. Or opt for dumbbells, which you can drop at your sides if needed -- but watch your toes if you do.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.