When we started this Men’s Health Staff Challenge, each of us got to choose a) our goal and b) our method of achieving that goal. Everybody chose a) an achievable goal and b) a proper workout program with a proper personal trainer at a proper gym.

Everybody except me.

I chose a) to try to fit into smaller pants by b) doing workouts at home using rudimentary home workout equipment. I wanted a challenge. A challenge is what I got.

A big advantage – nay, THE big advantage – of hiring a personal trainer is that he (or, indeed, she) keeps you motivated and helps correct your form. If you’re doing sit-ups and your legs are too flat, he’ll tell you. If you’re doing squats and one of your shoulders is dropping, he’ll point it out. And even if your PT is asleep on the job or checking out the all-female yoga class across the way, at least if you’re in a gym you’ll have floor-to-ceiling mirrors which will help you monitor and adjust your own form.

My home gym – which, really, means my home – has no floor-to-ceiling mirrors.

(When I suggested having mirrors installed on the ceiling, my wife gave me a funny look, and a few hours later I found a divorce attorney’s card placed strategically on the kitchen table. That was the last time we spoke of mirrors in our house.)

So when, for example, I use the Amazing Abs In 15 Minutes Core Slider Tool (pictured above, serving their secondary purpose as lounge-floor-lava-evading hovercrafts for my kids’ plush toys) to do amazing ab-building push-up exercises, I’m pretty much on my own, with my ass in the air. Literally. Look, this tool is pretty incredible, and you get a great workout. But every exercise you do requires the push-up position (in the industry, we call it “The Plank”), and the push-up position requires a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

If your butt is too high, you’re going to hurt your back. If your butt is too low, you’re going to hurt your back. I hurt my back.

Then I paid closer attention to my form (this involved setting up strategically-placed mirrors, which then involved some serious explaining to my wife), and I started getting results.

What did I learn from all of this? Two things:
1. How to set up mirrors so that you can see your own ass from a variety of angles.
2. Form is important, and if you don’t have a personal trainer or a Professional Butt Watcher, it’s even more important.