Joan Oyom needed a workout that could replace her jogging programme because insecurity hung over Kampala like a wet blanket. “I used to enjoy jogging at 5am when there is less traffic and it is still cool. But then they started raping and killing women so I could not risk anymore. The obvious replacement was joining a gym and using the treadmill,” Oyom narrates.
One thing she remembers on her first day at the gym was witnessing a man being flung off the treadmill. “A man came in with all the swag and bravado. He indicated to the instructor that he wanted to use the treadmill but the instructor asked him to hold on while he attended to another client, but he was impatient,” Oyom recounts. Oyom says the man got on the treadmill and started it, but complained that it was too slow. The instructor increased the speed a little but the man hit the maximum button, which sent him flying off the treadmill.
Abbey Sozzi, a trainer and manager at Acorns gym, Ntinda, confers that walking or running on a treadmill may seem safe but accidents can and do happen, especially when the user is not familiar with the machine.
Learn the machine
According to Sozzi, one of the most important steps one can take to keep safe on a treadmill is familiarising themselves with the machine. “If you are installing the machine at your home, take time to read the manual and educate yourself on how it works. Before you use the one at the gym, ask your instructors how it works,” he adds.
Treadmills come with features that are meant to keep you safe. The stop or pause buttons are meant to halt the machine so you can get off safely instead of trying to jump off a moving belt.
Robert Damulira, a fitness instructor, observes that using the treadmill properly will make a difference in your experience. To mount a treadmill properly, use the handrails to balance while you step onto the sides, straddling the belt. Step onto the belt before pressing start. Increase your pace gradually, because you risk falling off in case you are unable to keep up with the pace.
“Start slowly and increase intensity later by adding speed or increasing the incline of your treadmill. You can only increase either speed or intensity, but not both at the same time,” Damulira recommends.
Damulira stresses that unlike most workout outfits, what you wear on a treadmill can make a difference between a safe session or a trip to the emergency room. “It is easy for pieces to get trapped in the belt or to trip on account of the wrong footwear,” the trainer says. He says you need shoes that will offer sufficient protection against problems such as shin splints, knee pain and stress of the ankle. Never wear sandals, slippers on the treadmill.