Fitness Friday::Dangers in the Gym | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


Every once in a while, we at the Sisterhood receive information via email worth sharing with our readers. This is one of those whiles, and I’m happy to share some tips on staying safe and healthy at the gym! Enjoy 🙂

A misstep on a treadmill can land you in the emergency room. According to the Federal Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 50,000 people are treated every year for fitness-related injuries. Below, one of the toughest women in fitness, Tara Zimliki, founder of Tara’s Bootcamp weighs in on some of the most dangerous practices at the gym – and how to break a sweat, instead of a bone!

Dangerous Distractions – Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

  • Reading & Watching Television

Reading a book or watching your favorite TV show while you are on the treadmill or elliptical seems like a great idea: it makes the time go by quicker, you’re entertained, you hardly feel like you’re working out at all! According to Tara, “being absorbed into TV or a book while using a treadmill or elliptical greatly reduces the amount of effort you can put into your workout – hence the feeling like you aren’t even working out – you aren’t!” Tara notes that reading or watching television can help the time go by quicker, but don’t allow yourself to zone out for the entire time. She suggests using breaks in chapters or commercials to create an interval workout: keep a steady pace during your regular programming, then sprint for the duration of the commercials, or for 1-2 minutes between chapters if you are reading a book. This way you can “zone out” safely and still get a good workout in.

Chatting with your best friends while working out is not only annoying for those around you – it is very dangerous. Similar to driving and talking on a cell phone at the same time, you are not focused on the most important task at hand – staying on your cardio machine! According to Tara, “even when using a hands-free cell phone, being focused on a conversation will keep you from watching where you are stepping.” Tara also warns that texting while using machines is a big no-no: “the likelihood of falling while walking and texting is great – whether you are on a treadmill or simply walking around your neighborhood! If you need to text – stop the machine.”

“Music is a fantastic motivator…it can help you push through those difficult hills and energize you when you think you can’t go any further,” says Tara, “but I would say I see accidents at the gym because of a dropped iPod or tangled headphone cords on a regular basis.” Tara suggests wearing your MP3 player on your body and tucking your headphone cords into your shirt if you can, to allow you to freely swing your arms and move your legs. If you do drop your player – remember to always stop the machine before you get off and retrieve it – no iPod is worth a broken leg or sprained ankle!

Sweat it Out & Wipe it Off

  • Protect Yourself from Staph Infections

According to Tara, “everyone makes an effort to wipe down machines after they use them – but what about hand weights and barbells?” Tara notes that bacteria can enter your body through tiny cuts on your hands and arms, so be careful when using dumbbells. She suggests wiping them down with antibacterial spray or wipes before and after use. If you are using multiple sets of weights and/or don’t have access to antibacterial spray, use gloves to protect your hands – just make sure you wash them often!

  • Cover Up in the Locker Room

Wearing flip flops in the shower and sitting on a clean towel while changing in the locker room can help prevent plantar warts on your feet and infections in your skin. Tara notes that areas like saunas and steam rooms are also breeding grounds for bacteria, thanks to their warm, moist environment. If you want to enjoy them, be sure to use a clean towel to sit on and don’t use the same towel you sat on to wipe down your body later on.

About Tara Zimliki

Tara is a Certified Personal Trainer through The American Council on Exercise (ACE), and a Boot Camp Instructor. She has competed and trained with top athletes at the University of South Carolina where she was awarded a full cross-country scholarship. Tara has a B.A. from Rutgers University and specializes in fat loss and nutrition.  She is passionate about helping people change both body and mind, believing positive results stem from positive attitudes.  She helps clients maintain this attitude with fun, challenging and rewarding workouts.

Tara’s love of fitness started as a child when she began running at the young age of 7. She played numerous sports but running was her passion. Tara enjoyed it so much that she continued running right up until she had children, completing the New York Marathon 8 months pregnant and even ran 1 mile the day she gave birth to her first daughter and 3 miles the day she gave birth to her second daughter. Tara has completed 15 Marathons and hundreds of races worldwide. In addition, she has won many 5Ks and placed top in many long distance runs. In 2008, Tara placed in the top 500 women for the NYC Marathon. Recently, she won the USATF New Balance Long Distance Grand Prix for women 34 & under for the 4th consecutive year.  Tara’s practices what she preaches in all aspects of fitness and health and for this reason she is a trusted trainer that produces results.  For more information, please visit

Disclosure: Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans did not receive any compensation for sharing this information or linking to Tara’s Boot Camp.

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