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All Sweat, No Regret: How to keep your workouts healthy and injury-free 

All Sweat, No Regret: How to keep your workouts healthy and injury-free 

By Ryan Walsh  




Hitting the gym – for some, a dreaded obligation; for others, a holy pilgrimage.  


From the cardio-heads to the bench bros, the spinning fanatics to the sauna-sitters, anyone getting in a workout should be adequately prepared to train well and prevent injury.  


Understanding athletic health is a vitally important part of devising or executing any exercise routine. While some precautions like stretching and hydrating may be obvious, many other facets of athletic well-being and proper preparation can not only prevent injury but also maximize performance and results.  


Karen Coley-Cannon knows just what to do.  


As both the corporate director and personal trainer at Gainesville Health and Fitness, Coley-Cannon possesses a unique understanding and expertise around maintaining and improving athletic health. She has been with GHF for more than 45 years. 


She provided her thoughts on four key areas of athletic healthiness for workouts: diet, injury prevention, workout planning and gym bag essentials.  


Food and Diet 


“First and foremost, let’s make sure everyone understands we do not need to starve ourselves to get results,” Coley-Cannon said. “Calories equal energy.” 


Coley-Cannon recommends a few basics: 


  • Hydrating with water (as opposed to sugary sports drinks) 
  • Eating healthy carbs like whole grain cereals, whole wheat toast, brown rice, and fruits and vegetables 
  • Avoid foods containing saturated fats – these types of fuels digest slower, depriving muscles of much-needed oxygen  


Fueling up about two hours before partaking in an exercise routine is recommended. If faced with a time crunch, a piece of fruit is fine to consume right before a workout.  


While these are general guidelines, Coley-Cannon also advises gymgoers to listen to their bodies and adjust their diet to their particular needs. There is no one-size-fits-all.  


Injury Prevention  


“Most importantly, we need to listen to our bodies – they’re fine-tuned machines,” said Coley Cannon. 


When pain arises in muscles or joints, one must pay attention. Powering through pain can often lead to worse injuries. However, strengthening weaker areas is advisable in moderation.  


Stretching before and after workouts leads to fewer injuries. Coley-Cannon also recommends a trip to the sauna, steam room or pool for recovery. At GHF, REQuest Physical Therapy sessions are available for members.  


Proper form is equally important. Performing certain workouts, particularly those involving weights, requires correct form and technique to maximize results and prevent injury. 


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Other tips, like having a spotter when using a squat rack or bench press, are important gym basics.  


Gym Bag Must-Haves 


Coley-Cannon keeps it simple: 


  • Water bottle 
  • Headphones 
  • Towel 
  • Change of clothes 


At GHF, items such as sanitizing wipes are available and encouraged for use on machines.  


Workout Routine Planning 


“Meeting with a professional and having an assessment done to determine the best path and safest results is always a win-win,” Coley-Cannon said. “Of course, you can always do your own research.” 


The internet contains a wealth of resources related to workout routines. GHF even has its own YouTube page where personal trainers instruct on how to start or adapt a gym routine.  



Although some general tips apply to all, everyone’s athletic health is going to look a little different. Being smart and being prepared are the best ways to work toward those exercise goals. 


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