From the moment Narcissus saw his reflection in the water, mirrors have been a curse placed upon our lives. One of the most reflective places you’ll ever be in is the gym, and in many ways those mirrors at the gym are anything but your friend.
There are, however, benefits to mirrors at the gym and some genuine reasons (other than vanity) for having so many of them. When I was first learning the proper technique for squatting, for example, a mirror came in handy to help me keep an eye on my foot and knee placement.
But while they might seem innocently placed to make the room appear larger and help you out with your form, beware: mirrors at the gym are evil, cursed objects from hell, just waiting to pounce on you.
5 Reasons Why Mirrors at the Gym Are Evil, Cursed Objects from Hell
1. Mirrors at the gym derive pleasure from making you hurt yourself.
While the mirror is handy to help you gauge the quality of your form on some movements, for others this is not the case. The thing about proper form is that your head and neck placement is equally part of it. Craning your neck in an awkward way so that you can watch your form in the mirror can itself lead to bad form.
Mirrors at the gym may not be good enough to help you perfect the proper, safe form. In that case, your best bet is to get another person to coach you on form.
2. Mirrors at the gym deliberately distract you.
I once saw a man at a squat rack performing squats with his back turned to the mirror. I wasn’t sure why he was doing this, but he deliberately rearranged the bar and the bar hooks so that he could squat this way. So I tried it myself and I was surprised at how much the mirror had been distracting me from mentally focusing on the movement.
There is a meditative aspect to working out that the mirrors at the gym can distract you from. As much as possible I try to perform my routines without looking in the mirror.
3. Mirrors are mean and nasty.
Gyms are not known for flattering lighting, and the mirrors at the gym reflect this back to you. We might look in the mirror at home and think Hey, I look nice today! But somehow the mirrors at the gym rarely cause the same reaction.
4. Mirrors at the gym conceal things from you.
There are a group of muscles aptly coined the “mirror muscles.” Those are the quads, pecs, shoulders, and biceps – aka the muscles you see when you look in the mirror. Being too focused on the mirrors at the gym can cause some folks to neglect the muscles of their posterior chain – all the muscles of the back, the glutes, and the hamstrings.
Not only does this look silly, but it’s also unhealthy. Muscle development should be uniform throughout the body to prevent one muscle from dominating another, which causes your body to get all out of whack and joint problems to develop. A proper, healthy workout routine is one that gives equal attention to your full body of muscles – not just the ones that look pretty in the mirror.
5. There are even humans disguised as evil mirrors at the gym.
I work out at a gym that’s, shall we say, competitive in the aesthetic department. There are many guys there who more than likely use some inject-able helpers to get there muscles to pop like they do, and the excess fat to fall off. I, on the other hand, am 100% all-natural (hells yes I am!). Measuring your success at the gym based on comparing yourself aesthetically to the other people there is a pointless, self-defeating endeavour.
Leaving the gym after a workout should feel great, and the mirrors at the gym have a knack for dampening that feeling. Escaping their reflective power is an ongoing effort, given that they are literally all around you, taunting you like an evil villain.
But actively resisting looking in mirrors is, in itself, an exercise that isn’t altogether different from the main reasons you’re at the gym in the first place:
To improve your self-image – something you don’t need a mirror to accomplish.