I don't know if I've mentioned this, but despite spending about 90% of my life being entirely unathletic, I am kind of a gym fascist. You see, I am all about FOLLOWING THE RULES (see: Myers-Briggs type ISTJ, and I am the ISTJ-est ISTJ you could ever meet). Which means, for instance, that (in my head) you should come to a class when it starts, stay until it's over, and not chat with your neighbor throughout class. (Hey, I didn't say these rules had to be written down anywhere.)
More to the point, I am Judgy McJudgerson about form at the gym. If your form is incorrect, I WILL JUDGE YOU. Silently, to myself. But vigorously. In part, I figure if you're not going to bother using the correct form, why bother working out? In part, this is my obsession with following rules. But mostly, I think, this is precisely because I am utterly unathletic, and so one of the only things I have to offer is form. I'm slow and weak and inflexible, but dammit, my form is beautiful. It's the only thing I can beat you on. Well, not you, reading this. But at least some people at my gym.
(Let me state for the record that being able to complete a particular yoga pose does not count. The fact that I can't touch my toes with my knees straight doesn't mean I can't have beautiful form in a sun salutation. Ahem.)
Anyway, last week I went to the gym, and roaming around, found a couple of beat up Concept II rowing machines. I was kind of delighted, because almost everything else I like to do only works my lower body, so I was happy to find something that would give me a full body workout.
I should also note that there is definitely a proper way to use a rowing machine.
There was a guy using the machine next to mine, and man, his form was AWFUL. It sucked. I'm not going to be able to explain this well, but most of the power in rowing actually comes from the lower body; you start with your legs bent and arms extended in front of you, leaning forward. Then you push off with your legs until they're straight, and only then do you engage your upper body to pull the handle of the machine back. You pull the handle by first leaning back, and when you've leaned back as far as you can, you only then do you pull your hands back, keeping them at the level of your waist, until your elbows are bent and the handle is tight against your abdomen. Then you sort of let the handle pull your upper body forward, back to the beginning of the stroke, and only once your arms are fully extended again do you bend your legs and slide back to the front of the slide. (This happens much more quickly and smoothly in real life.)
The guy next to me - he was pulling back with his arms at the same time he was pushing with his legs (don't do that); he wasn't moving all the way back on the slide, but only pushing back a little bit, so his legs never straightened; he didn't lean back at all, so he didn't get as much leverage from his upper body as he could, and the "pull" was very short; also he lifted the handle up at the end of every stroke. Basically, he wasn't getting anywhere near the power into any of his strokes that you should be able to get in rowing.
So I'm rowing away, feeling exceedingly smug, waves of judgment emanating from my sweaty self in this guy's direction. His poor form pains me, in fact. It makes me twitch. It makes me happy that I, I know what proper form is and how to execute it.
And then the guy stopped. And he took out his crutches, and balancing carefully, worked his way to his feet, and slowly crutched away.
And I am going to hell.