I am not a fan of sloppy. Poor form can actually be harmful, and good exercise form is more effective, anyway.
There are several reasons I love sharp, precise movements when you’re working out. This goes for every kind of exercise, but right now I’m really talking about cardio. I tell the participants in my classes to “move with intention”. Don’t just flail around, thinking about your to-do list or if you’re going to make it home in time to watch Dancing With the Stars. Move like you mean it, like you’re putting your arm or your leg exactly where you want it to go. Here’s why.
Poor exercise form can be dangerous. In cardio, there’s a lot more leeway as far as proper form goes, especially when we’re getting into dance workouts. But for lifting and certain cardio classes like kickboxing, it’s very important to nail the proper form, even if you have to slow down at first. But here’s the thing: even if you’re going more slowly or not kicking as high, you can still be focused, precise, and intentional with your movement. Which leads to lots of other benefits:
It’s more effective.
You’ll work so much harder–and benefit that much greater–if you move with purpose. My rumba teacher gets after the class all the time to use their arms. Meanwhile, I know he’s not talking to me, because with every step my arms are going through the full range of motion that he has demonstrated. It’s exhausting. I love it.
See above: that extra effort is tiring. That requires you to really pay attention. When my shoulders want to give out, I have to concentrate on making sure they don’t. I have to will them to go where I want them to go. It becomes like a meditation (and a good exercise in mental strength), because it’s impossible to think of anything else.
Your hips will never do THAT if you’re not practicing making them do THAT. (I’ve got rumba on the brain. Believe me, my hips have learned a LOT in that class.) Whatever the movement is, it might be slow and goofy at first, but get it down and insist that your body perform it to the best of its ability each time. You’ll get better and better.
You look more awesome.
Most fitness classes are done in front of the mirror, and you will love the way you look when you’re using intentional, precise movements. When it comes to yoga and pilates, I’m not a huge fan of the mirror. But for every other type of exercise, I love it. It’s been shown that people work harder and longer when they can watch themselves exercise, so use that to your advantage. Watch the way you move, and insist on nice clean movements.
Even if you’re not (yet) using the full range of motion, keep your movements intentional within whatever range you do have.