It would be great if we could all have a personal trainer to help us perfect our form. But, unfortunately, that’s not always in everyone’s budget. But, just because you don’t have someone monitoring your every move doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t focus on doing your exercises correctly. Proper form is important, not only to better improve your physical fitness, but also to help you prevent injury and keep your body safe. It can even help you maximize your time spent working out.
Even if a personal trainer isn’t in your future, there are a number of ways that you can learn proper form on your own. With a little effort and research, you can master the right way to do moves all by yourself—and on a budget. Once you’ve got a good grasp on how to properly maneuver your body, solo gym workouts or at-home exercises on the Aaptiv app will become easier and safer—and you’ll likely even see more progress. Here are seven ways to learn proper form, even if you can’t afford your own trainer.
Watching a video can help you learn proper form, since you can study the person exercising and then move your own body along with them. Some Aaptiv workouts have videos that show you how to do each movement directly in the app. Many certified trainers and professionals also post free videos on YouTube to teach viewers different exercises and how to properly perform them. “Look for professional websites with someone who lists their credentials,” says Aaptiv Trainer Amanda Butler. There are also at-home DVDs available that can help you emulate proper form.
Try a group class
Although you may not get one-on-one attention, a group class can help you learn proper form. Plus, they tend to be much more affordable than private training sessions. “Your local YMCA offers a variety of group exercise programs that are a fun and interactive way to work out with others,” says Certified Personal Trainer Dr. Gary Olson. “The Y’s group exercise instructors are highly-trained to provide safe and effective exercise programs. Utilize your peers for guidance and help to ensure [that] you’re performing workouts properly.”
Use a reference book
If you want to get really official, find a used text published by ACSM, ACE, and/or NSCA as a reference book. “All [of the aforementioned] contain chapters on appropriate form/technique for exercise,” says Personal Trainer Becky Behling. “Good basics rarely shift, and these books can provide a wealth of information for [a] very low cost.”
Follow trainers on social media
Follow your favorite trainers on social media and watch how they perform common exercises. You can even engage with them when you have questions. “Follow the trainers on Aaptiv that you like, and check out their websites, Instagram pages, etc.,” says Butler. “Send the trainer a message asking on a specific exercise if you’re having trouble understanding it.”
Practice in front of a mirror
Select the exercises of interest to you, and practice in front of a mirror. “Move slowly so you can observe as many details as possible about positioning your body,” says Behling. “Also, hone your internal sensory wisdom about how your body is responding. Again, move slowly so [that] you can attend to finer and finer details of movement.”
Enlist a friend
When solo, it can be difficult to tell how your body is positioned, so it can be useful to have someone else observe what you look like. “Cultivate a workout buddy or group who is willing to learn with you and assist you with honing your form and technique,” says Behling. “Be humble and kind as you learn together. Make this a priority and stay committed.”
Observe at the gym
“If you are at a gym, watch a trainer explain and perform demos for their client and see the corrections they make,” says Butler. Observe the session and watch the client’s movement patterns. “If you like the movement, listen to the trainers cues, and then give it a try yourself,” says Butler. Just remember to give the trainer and their client space, and observe respectfully.
Proper form comes with practice and attention. Even if you can’t get a personal trainer, there are plenty of resources available to you when it comes to learning good form, starting with using the Aaptiv app. The more you pay attention to how you move, the better your results will be.