It’s tempting to take a glance in the mirror during a work-out, but it could hinder more than help
Gyms today are more like beauty salons with their floor-to-ceiling mirrors for fear that you may put a hair out of place during your exercise.
Studies done at the Student Recreation Centre in Dallas found that women became depressed when they watch themselves in a mirror during exercise.
The findings reinforced earlier studies completed by Les Mills fitness classes in New Zealand, which found that over half of the women did not like working out in front of the mirrors, for body image reasons.
“I mostly don’t like the fat jiggling,” said Taneisha Mosley from Dallas. The women in the New Zealand study said that they didn’t work as hard when they saw themselves in the mirror, as they did not like the way they looked when they were sweating and tired.
Mirrors provide feedback on your appearance and body symmetry, but they are also related to shoulder imbalance injuries as guys train the muscle groups they see in a mirror while neglecting those on the back.
Mirrors are also not a good way to observe progress, especially on exercises as complex as the squat. When someone is squatting in front of the mirror and looking to the side to check their spinal curvatures, they are rotating the vertebrae in the neck under load and increasing the likelihood of a serious injury.
Learning occurs when you have seen an exercise, it has been explained to you and you have performed it so you can feel it. You cannot obtain learning for your brain through observational learning with the use of a mirror. Mirrors change what you see as the direction of light takes a different path when reflected. Light from the highest point ends up lowest after being reflected and vice versa and so this affects how you see it.
While it may be possible to detect error in the movement of a reflection in a mirror, it is impossible to correct the error through the feedback from a mirror.
So next time you are in the gym, your focus should be on the mind to perform the exercise to achieve an outcome not how you look. The use of external stimuli, like music or mirrors, to look at muscles during an exercise will distract you.
It is you who will lift the weight not the mirrors, and it is you who will receive the dumbbell if it falls through lack of concentration. You need to be clever with your training, train with purpose, train for results and don’t be a rabbit caught in headlights by checking yourself out during your next workout. Your body and mind will thank you for it.