The gym is a safe environment to learn body awareness and proper technique. That’s because gyms aren’t very chaotic, they’re controlled. An example of a chaotic environment is a sport like soccer, where there are a lot of people running around and doing things you can’t predict.
Kettlebells and dumbbells, on the other hand, are very predictable. That’s why weight training injuries are less frequent than injuries from sports or things like hiking. With less stress and chaos, you can focus more on what your body is doing.
Mirrors are found in most gyms and play two distinct roles. The first is to give you valuable feedback when you’re doing an exercise, helping you adjust your form on the fly. The second is to give you a place to admire how good you look.
When you’re first learning an exercise, or even if you’re an experienced fitness enthusiast, it can be hard to figure out if your form is correct. That’s why having a trainer is so valuable. The mirror is also helpful because you can spot little mistakes you’re making, as long as you know what to look for.
The problem is that mirrors can become a crutch, taking away your ability to self-diagnose flaws in your technique. Rather than focusing on internal feedback from your body, you’re focusing on external feedback (what you see in the mirror). This isn’t the end of the world, but what happens when you take the mirror away?
Building the body awareness that it takes to correct your form without any external feedback is difficult. It’s also very much worth the time and patience. If you leave the stable gym environment and head into something more chaotic, chances are you won’t have a mirror to rely on. Instead, you’ll rely on body awareness to control yourself.
Building that trust with your own body can help you avoid injuries and maintain proper posture and alignment. It’s a skill, just like any other, that you should develop. Another problem with mirrors is that they can throw off your balance and form.
If you’re looking from a side-profile into the mirror with your head turned, it can strain your neck or back. When you do single-leg exercises like lunges that require balance, looking at the mirror can actually throw you off (because you’re looking at a moving object). While mirrors can be used selectively to help you learn technique, you should be able to workout with or without one. Don’t let mirrors become a crutch!