Sunday Sweat Talk {Helping or Harassing}

Hey guys, it’s time for our little weekend fitness date. If you’re new to the F&F world, I recently started this Sunday Sweat Talk series as a way to chat about any fitness topics that are on my mind, check in on how everyone’s workouts went from the previous week, and let you guys have a place to chime in about any fitness things you want. Or anything really. I just like to hear from you guys and read your comments!

Sunday Sweat Talk

Let’s talk about…

Helping or harassing

This topic actually stems from last Sunday’s Sweat Talk post on January Joiners. Sarah left a comment about how she’s been seeing a lot of “scary stuff” in the gym this month such as poor form, puzzled faces, and a lack of general fitness knowledge from the beginner gym goers. I couldn’t agree more with this. It’s really scary because some of the “technique” I’ve seen in both the weight and cardio room makes me REALLY nervous that someone is going to get hurt.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the gym on a Sunday afternoon to do 20 minutes of cardio and then lift. In the cardio room, I noticed a man flailing on the treadmill (I honestly don’t know what he was doing), a woman set up on the spin bike very incorrectly, and a guy whose knees were facing out on the row machine with every rep he did. In the weight room, there was a girl on the mats doing glute raises on all fours, but she was arching so badly that I was nervous she was going to throw out her back in the process. Oh, and then there was the personal trainer I saw having a newbie do squats to knee raises…with weights…on a box. The poor client’s form in her squat was so bad, and the trainer just stood there and let her keep going!! What!? This was a woman who very clearly needed to be working on bodyweight air squats first to build some confidence with form before progressing to the other levels. I bet that poor lady never comes back. I seriously was pissed I saw this happen.

Now let me ask you guys. I never know what I’m supposed to do in these types of situations. As a certified fitness professional, should I have tried to help? I could have easily approached any of the people in the cardio room to offer assistance, and I could have asked glute girl if she minded me sharing a tip to make the move more effective. But I never know how people are going to react. Maybe they don’t want to be bothered, maybe that would annoy them, and maybe then I look like the girl harassing everyone at the gym. And I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened if I said ANYTHING to that personal trainer. But with my background, am I under an obligation to say something to any of these folks? It’s not like I was there working a floor shift. I was there on my own personal time to do my own workout. It just really bothers me to see some of the stuff I’ve seen this month, and I genuinely want to help people when I can. If someone approached me in the gym to offer a pointer, I would be psyched. But I’m already confident navigating the gym, so I think I’m in the minority here.

I guess everyone’s different, so most likely some people would react well and appreciate the advice while others would most certainly take offense. I really just want to encourage anyone out there that’s new to the gym world to seek the help of an experienced professional. If you really have no idea where to start or how to do something, a personal trainer will be MORE than happy to help you get acclimated. Even paying for one session to learn basic form is WORTH IT to avoid injury. Most gyms also offer some kind of “get started” program where someone will teach you how to use the equipment and machines you’re most interested in. Let’s just hope you don’t get the trainer I saw that day.

I’m curious to hear what you guys think about this. Is approaching someone to advise on their form helping or harassing? What would you have done? How would you gauge whether someone will react well or not? For those of you who aren’t certified instructors or trainers, how do you think you’d react if you were working out on your own and someone approached you with a pointer?

Moving on.

Let’s talk about…

My workouts from last week

Emily’s 20/20/20 class

Lauren’s spin class

Two A Day – Took Liz’s kickboxing class then taught these timed circuits in my class


Taught stations in my 6am…


…and then since I didn’t do the stations workout with my morning class, I went back to the gym at night to do 25 minutes of cardio, chest and back supersets, and abs



Monique‘s kickboxing

Let’s talk about…

My workout plan for this week

  • Sunday: Cardio, legs and shoulders, abs
  • Monday: Spin class
  • Tuesday: Two A Day (class format requests?)
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Teaching in the morning (class format requests?)
  • Friday: TBD
  • Saturday: Lift or maybe try a class somewhere

Readers, time to talk! Share something fitness related in this post. Did anyone try any new fitness classes this week? How’s everyone doing with their 2014 fitness goals? What are your thoughts on the helping versus harassing topic? What’s the worst gym form you’ve ever witnessed?

Hope everyone’s enjoying their Sunday!

21 thoughts on “Sunday Sweat Talk {Helping or Harassing}

  1. It’s funny that you bring this up today, because I was just talking to a coworker about that same exact thing the other day. I had gone for a run then went to the gym and I saw a couple working out together and it was just horrible. They had a book with them called “how to lift”, but they needed a lot more than that. I felt like I should give a tip (dropping to your knees will help you keep your back from sagging and causing injury), but also didn’t know if I would come off as rude or as being “that girl” who acts like she knows it all. It’s definitely a touchy subject because you’re right, people can react so differently, but if I was doing something wrong, I would want someone to correct me!


    • Sounds like this couple could have used your advice in the same way the girl doing the glute lifts incorrectly did. I’m wondering if we started off with a “hey, would you be open to a suggestion? I’m a trainer and wanted to share a tip” or something would be okay. Oy!


  2. Honestly, I think if I was approached I might feel a bit insecure in that moment, but after getting help I’d be very happy to have the correct form!


  3. I think it depends. If I see someone doing something horribly wrong I absolutely say something. I think the persons reaction is all in how you approach it. If I were to just walk up to someone and say “hey you aren’t doing that right…try this,” I might come across as being a know-it-all. However, if I went up to them, introduced myself, told them I work at the gym, etc, then give them a tip, what can they do? Either accept it or not. I saw a guy today doing deadlifts that killed me to watch and I have no problem in that instance saying something and it is definitely a responsibility of mine to do so. However, if I was working out at another gym where no one knew who I was I might be a little bit more apprehensive to offer corrections to a stranger. Being around the weight room so much at work I definitely see some scary things! But I’ve found that people are pretty receptive to my help and will often ask me questions about other exercises later, which then leads to new clients 🙂 Win-win!


  4. too funny bc i was having this conversation as well. it is hard bc there are various techniques and approaches and beliefs, but sometimes wrong is wrong… i dont mind hearing what other people have to say to me, i like hearing others’ thought processes, even if i ultimately revert to how i want to do it. and i can tell the difference between someone who is genuine or not. a newbie can be hard though, since they could already be intimidated OR they could be wishing for someone to teach them. There really isn’t any harm, I suppose when you think about it, whats the worst that could happen- resistance? Ok, oh well! Even though, Ive never done it so who am I to talk? haha!


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  6. Ah, good topic. It’s hard when you see “wrong is wrong” and room for potential injury. It makes ya cringe. I agree with what others have said. It’s all about the approach. I’ve approached a few people and asked them if they’d like some help instead of a typical meathead coming up to someone to tell them they’re doing it wrong. I know I’ve been confident enough to personally ask for help if I want to learn something I’m not familiar with, but most people aren’t. :/ I definitely feel ya on not wanting to be ‘that girl” who’s always correcting people, but when someone could seriously hurt themselves, I think it may be worth saying something.


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