Last week, I wrote a blog about how social media can distract people from focusing on their own lives and goals, especially when it comes to the gym. As I explained, many people would go to the gym with the aim of trying to look like a celebrity or professional athlete and in doing so, they would essentially devalue or ignore their own personal fitness journey. Notwithstanding people’s use of social media OUT of the gym, I often take issue with people constantly glued to their phones while they are IN the gym.
For example, when I was recently training at a public gym a few weeks ago, I could not help noticing a group of teenagers (probably on school holidays) gathered around a lat-pulldown machine. Not only were these teens performing the exercise with the wrong technique but moreover, they were loud, obnoxious, and constantly glued to their phones. Now, not to be a Karen, I get that these teenagers are young, full of testosterone and may not be aware of basic gym etiquette / behaviour, but it got me thinking, does this only happen with young kids?
In my view, the answer is no. There have been countless times where I have waited for a machine or bench at the gym and I have found that there is someone literally sitting down scrolling their Instagram, watching YouTube, or even having a social conversation on the phone. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting at all that people should not have their phones at the gym. Phones at the gym can be extremely useful for things like listening to music, recording your exercise results, and filming parts of your workout for technique and form review. But don’t tell me that watching reels, texting memes to your mates, or scrolling an online-shopping website is somehow enhancing your gym session.
Think about it, would you be watching reels while simultaneously running 10km? Probably not. Now this isn’t just one of things that make me cringe, but there is also scientific evidence linking mobile phone use with decreased intensity of workouts in the gym. A 2017 journal article published in Performance Enhancement and Health found that respondents who spent more time on their mobile phone (compared to those who spent less time) were more likely to decrease the intensity, efficiency, and cognitive benefits of their workout while also increasing the risk of injury. The study mainly focused on aerobic exercises, but can easily be applied to resistance training as well.
For instance, when I incorporate HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and supersets (i.e exercises performed consecutively with no break) into both my own and my clients’ fitness programs, it’s not because I want to punish myself or my clients. The whole aim of this type of training is to keep the heart rate up, the right amount of intensity to push for positive adaptations and to make sure that sessions are time efficient, ensuring there is, so-to-speak, the right amount of “bang for your buck” in each session. Using a phone for unnecessary reasons defeats the whole purpose of intense and effective training in the first place.
So, next time you go to the gym, think about whether you really need to watch that video, share that meme , or send that text.
Ask yourself, is this a part of the training, or am I wilfully distracting myself?
If you’re someone who is looking to train hard, challenge yourself, and add meaning to your fitness session, let’s get in touch. I’m only a click or phone call away.