Love Workout Classes? Here's What You Should Know Before Diving In

Photo: STUDIO FIRMA

Ever heard a story about an experienced runner having a hip dislocate on a long run? New exercisers pulling muscles after choosing a demanding workout? Weight lifters getting hunchbacks solely from lifting weights at the gym?

We all have workouts that speak to us, but it's important to try a complementary workout in order to add variety and stay safe and injury-free.

For example, if runners are having joint issues, at times they need workouts that are easy on the joints. If new exercises are pulling muscles, it's because they haven't given their muscles time to heal. And if weight lifters are evolving into hunchbacks, they need to try workouts that help posture.

That said, I have some advice to offer on popular workout classes with the help of Pop-Doc.com founder (and orthopedic surgeon) Dr. David Neuman, chiropractor Dr. Rob Silverman, and doctor of Oriental medicine Dr. Michael Forman.

Ready to make your workout routine fun, fresh, and injury-free? These are the trendy workout classes you should try.

If you need something that's easy on your joints, try cycling and barre.

Running got your knees down? That's normal—all that pounding takes a toll over time. So try a spin class, like SoulCycle.

As Dr. Neuman explains, "Cycling does not involve impact forces across the joints, and therefore, there are less joint reactive forces across the joints. Fewer forces across the joints may prolong the life of joints."

If you need a break from cardio, try Pure Barre. It's an effective workout that focuses on hips, thighs, glutes, abs, and arms. Pure Barre's technique avoids bouncing or jumping, protecting your joints as your strengthen around them. It's effective because it strengthens and immediately stretches to create long, lean muscles and avoid compression in the joint.

Dr. Silverman adds, "With Pure Barre make sure you have proper posture for core contraction. This class correctly emphasizes full-body movement to non-isolation movements. Lots of all-spine sparring movements."

If you need something that allows your muscles time to heal, try boot camp.

You may have heard of Barry's Bootcamp. If you haven't, you're missing out. As Dr. Neuman explains, "This group workout offers a unique experience and attempts to change up the workouts daily, so the body can work different muscle groups on different days. This can allow for the other body areas to recover while other areas are getting a workout. Just remember to use proper technique and don't overdo your workout."

Dr. Silverman adds, "Barry's Bootcamp has a very low chance of injury and can actually prevent it. The class uses a Woodway treadmill, which has a curve—much better than normal treadmills, which cause damage to the lower back by shrinking disc space and discs alone. Barry’s Bootcamp also concentrates on human power only and was used by U.S. Navy Seals. The class separates whole-body weight resistance on the floor and cardio on the treadmill."

When you want to get your heart rate up, choose a class that gets you moving.

I like Orange Theory. This method gives you a heart-rate monitor to wear so that the entire class reviews their own performance on a few screens. You can see everyone's status, which inspires you to keep up with and perform your best.

Another great option is Zumba. It's a group-oriented workout that focuses on bodily health and wellness, but in this class, you're dancing your way to the goal line with Latin music! It's a cardiovascular workout with a serious element of fun because of the music and dance moves, which means your practice in the class translates to showing off on the dance floor!

But Dr. Silverman gives these tips to stay safe while shaking it off. "Remember that some Zumba moves require your spine and hips to rotate or twist, so take it easy if you have back issues," he explains.

Dr. Silverman also suggests not wearing heels during Zumba because this puts the back in a strained position for your spine.

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If you need some serious posture help, try yoga.

Specifically, hot yoga. Here you're surrounded by an intense heat environment that helps with cleansing and internal fluid movement. These classes have a lot of static poses so it requires a lot of stability and balance. I recommend hot yoga over any of the other popular fitness classes because it is more centered on body awareness and posture.

But Dr. Silverman does have a key precaution to remember when doing hot yoga. "In a heated environment, your blood flow increases, making you feel more flexible than you usually are. But this can be a problem if you surpass your safe zone, which is anything over 20 to 25 percent of your resting length. By surpassing your safe zone, you begin to damage a muscle. To avoid this injury, move at your own pace," he explains.

If you need something to keep your bones strong, try weight training.

Dr. Forman says this is especially good for those at risk for osteoporosis and women over 40. He explains, "In addition to usable vitamin D, calcium, and plenty of water, weight-bearing exercise is good because bones need to recast in order to maintain healthy structure."

If you need something that will strengthen your arms and legs, try a spin class that incorporates strength training.

Flywheel is particularly good for this. It's an innovative take on indoor cycling and includes a component of upper-body exercises.

Dr. Neuman explains, "If Flywheel is done in a controlled fashion with an appropriate amount of weight, then the upper body will become more conditioned, toned, and flexible."

With all of the above (and for runners as well), Dr. Neuman notes that exercise can always get dangerous if you exercise too often, exercise with too much force or weight, or exercise without proper technique

Doing these three things can lead to joint irritation and inflammation, joint swelling, stiffness, and daily pain. So above all else, listen to your body and take a break when your body gives you the signal.

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