However, my moment of honesty is extending a bit longer here. I've got a beef. Somewhere out there, the line between "exercising" and "abuse" is being blurred. Generally this crime is being committed by three different groups of people; Newbies, bullies, and sheep.
Newbies are the people that are new to the scene, looking for some sort of body transformation. They have the will, but don't know the way. In some ways, they are like the sheep - the difference is that the newbies generally are going it alone. When newbies get started, they tend to get hurt because they are following a workout they found in a magazine or from a friend that "knows what he's talkin' about, dude". Going too hard too fast, they set themselves up for injury because they figure the harder they work, the faster they will see results. This is how the newbie commits the crime of blurring exercise and abuse. In some ways though, the newbies are the most inspiring people I see and work with; willing to work and making the time to try, they really just need some guidance to make it all come together.
Next is the bully, and they wear many disguises. Boot camp coach, group exercise instructor, personal trainer - all facades the bully owns. A bully doesn't lead and educate, but rather drills, and heavily repeats a limited number of activities. Another sign is the fact that many of their clients are over-trained or injured. Some signs of over-training include chronic fatigue, long-term soreness, a plateau in progress, elevated resting heart rate, weaker immune system, and increased occurrence of injury. Read more on overtraining in the Fitness Articles tab to the left.
The sad fact is, there is no national/universal qualification test for 'fitness experts'. This means that should you decide to put your faith in a trainer or instructor, you cannot assume that they are all created equally. It is up to you to shop around, compare trainers, and see who really knows their stuff! You might find that your bootcamp instructor or personal trainer isn't an expert, but just someone who will literally push you past your breaking point because they don't know how to tailor your workouts to keep you healthy.
The last person who is guilty of smudging the training/torture line is the sheep, and unfortunately they are often the least aware of their mistake. The sheep is usually working with a trainer, and may have seen some positive results since they started. they blindly follow all advice they are given, taking it for gospel without really understanding it. (Oftentimes, the sheep is under the tutelage of the bully) The largest demographic suffering from this syndrome is women over 35, followed by high school athletes and triathletes. These are groups of people that are functioning under the instruction of one or more leaders, and are more likely to ignore symptoms of pain or injury because the group dynamic causes them to have a "suck-it-up" mentality. You shouldn't find yourself vomiting, excessively bleeding, or needing to make appointments with your doctor as a result of your workouts!
Injuries are a nuisance, and they prevent you from reaching your goals. If you read through this and feel like you might fit into one of these categories, it's probably time to re-think your attack plan. Make sure that you know why you are working out, and that your plan is designed to minimize injuries while maximizing results. There's a huge difference between a well-planned training macro-cycle and just beating yourself up day after day without balance. They can mean the difference between breaking a sweat and just plain breaking a leg!