Recognizing reliability

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, is a Certified Health Coach and a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center.

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Saint Louis takes pride in many things: the Gateway Arch, toasted ravioli, Provel cheese, and especially the highly acclaimed Washington University School of Medicine. So much knowledge and experience is contained within the walls and halls of our great institution; yet how are we supposed to learn in a society that is so suspicious and guarded? 

Visiting a friend in the hospital, for example, you’ll notice that signs are posted in the elevators cautioning us against talking about a patient’s case in an effort to protect his privacy. Try ordering an item on Amazon or any other website. You must first log in and then enter your double-secret-confidential password, or else…sorry, access denied.

This seems to be in stark contrast to the realm of social media. Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the rest, one gets the impression that people feel free to share anything and everything about their lives, sometimes up to the second it is occurring. No secret codes, no hidden agendas…just every minute detail one could possibly imagine.

Sadly, such free-flow sharing is not limited to the computer or cell phone. In a typical gym, you’ll always find some weightlifter dispensing free advice to a new member, with no certification whatsoever.  What the heck, right? It’s as public a forum as Twitter, isn’t it?

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If, as parents, you are among the cautious like I am, and have drummed into your daughters’ heads the dangers of over-sharing electronically, you understand my logic here. Taking a stranger’s advice in a gym might turn out to be beneficial; but very often we see injuries emerging from the lack of a spotter, poor form or misuse of equipment. I have actually gone up to a member and asked what body part she was working on today, since nothing about her movements even remotely hinted at effective training. Rather, it resembled movements that could land her in an orthopedist’s office. Her reply? “I don’t know — that guy over there was doing it so I figured it was good.”

Some gym rats love to share. Others choose to treat their workout techniques as personal, since the professional who designed them tailored the exercises to the client’s specific needs. When starting out at a new fitness center, or choosing to begin a weight training regimen, good judgment is going to be your best ally. If the center is at all reputable, professionals will be visible and out on the gym floor. They are there for a reason: Their level of expertise has been deemed worthy of assisting others in a safe, effective manner.  All you need to do is ask.

Now, you get to decide: too much information shared versus password-protected everything. There is indeed a practical middle ground. Knowledge is power — just always check your sources.