Reference, Not Judgement: How to use mirrors in the gym
Hey friends, in this 4 minute read we’re going to talk about why there are mirrors in most gyms and what to use them for when you work out. This piece was inspired by a conversation I had with my friend Justin while teaching his Ninja Essentials class at Mark Fisher Fitness.
My teaching intention for the class was a focus on maintaining the relationship between the rib cage and the pelvis in the presence of increased metabolic load. More simply put, can you maintain desirable postures in the face of fatigue.
Justin and I had already spoken about how a position might not necessarily look the way that it feels, and that looking into the mirror is the single best tool to use for validation.
I said that to him on mic, and in that moment, in my head, class came to a screeching halt.
Using the mirror for validation, in the way that the vast majority of people do it, is the exact opposite of what I intended to say. What I meant was that we can use the mirror for feedback, for clarification, and to calibrate our kinesthetic compass. The mirror is a tool of bodily reference, not bodily judgement.
If you’re in most gyms, including MFF, there’s probably at least one wall that’s covered with a giant mirror. Most of the time, we use the mirror so we can watch our reflection. Do you ever stop to think what you look at when you work out?
I invite you to practice using the mirror for reference, not judgement. This isn’t about vanity, this is about form.
We can often see our movement better than we can feel it, and the mirror is a great tool to help you figure out how to control the movements of your body. The mirror as an aid can be used by everyone, whether you’re working out by yourself in a massive gym, in a semi-private or group class, or even working out one-on-one with a trainer. Trust me, even the best personal trainer in the world can’t give you verbal feedback as quickly as you can give yourself visual feedback.
If you’re in my class at MFF, I’ll always encourage you to use the mirror so that you can make adjustments in real time and ultimately develop movement autonomy. Remember, as my mentor Nick Winkelman says, ”If a client requires your presence to perform the movement effectively, you have failed.”
I would MUCH rather ask someone that I’m coaching what they’re focused on doing well and reinforce that thought process, then tell somebody what they’re doing wrong.
If you’re embracing mindful movement within your workouts, and you’ve used the mirror for feedback and calibration, my guess is you’ll be a lot more successful in navigating movement quality over the course of a workout.
Ultimately, the goal is to use the mirror for feedback, for clarification, and to calibrate our kinesthetic compass. The mirror is a tool of bodily reference, not bodily judgement.
Reference, not judgement.
Okay, friends, that’s it for this episode of HGTV – thank you for joining me! I’d love to know your thoughts on mirrors in the gym. Does your gym have them? Do you ever use them? Are they a distraction or a tool? Leave a comment so I can see what you see! As always, you can read these words on HaroldGibbons.com. Cheers!