Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What To Do

I've been looking over the group fitness classes in the gym literature they gave me when I joined. It has been so long since I went to a class like that... I guess it was 1993-ish when my friends and I last went to aerobics classes together for awhile. I did try a water aerobics class and hated it. I've done a few videos at home here and there. But looking at the list in my hand, I wonder what I should try first. Next week I plan to swim and figure out the weight machines, and then I want to try a class. They have low impact aerobics, Les Mills BodyVive, yoga, zumba, and pilates. I feel silly but I have almost no clue what these classes are like. When I think of yoga I remember the lady on public TV meditating on a rock with the ocean in the background, eyes shut, flowers around her neck, doing a couple of stretches. I have heard random bits enough to know that zumba is some kind of dance-type exercise and pilates is supposed to lengthen your muscles, and I know "low impact" is definitely the kind of moving my arthritic knees need. I haven't got much stamina for moving fast. I walk a lot, but I haven't been really out of breath for a long time.

So what do you think? What would you suggest? Have you tried any of these classes, and did you like them?


deezer said...

Hi Lynn,

The classes all sound good, and I've joined gyms and done tons of classes and seen the benefits. However, I'd be careful of two things - 1) your knees, and 2) trying something that's too intense and then you take some time off from the gym because you hated it.

Talk to a trainer there, and when they are helping you with the weights machines and telling you how to do things, just ask about the classes - and then start with one or two a week, not anything crazy!

Congrats on getting back into it though - GO YOU!

Anonymous said...

I tried pilates and didn't like it all. I like more active kind of classes which keeps your heart rate up. But I suggest that you try different classes. That is the only way to know which classes you like. At least give them a try.

Forty Pound Sack said...

I love zumba when I have nervous energy to burn; it's a Latin dance type thing and it's great for getting the heart pumping. Yoga I like more for when I exercise at the end of the day. I find it very relaxing, and surprisingly challenging. I would LOVE to take Pilates - I've got a Pilates machine on my wish list, if I ever have $500 to spare and my basement cleaned out. =) Try them all - see what you love ~

Moosecat said...

Why don't you contact the gym and ask them? I wouldn't recommend Zumba for a novice, the moves can be quite tricky until you get to know them (I've been doing it for 2 years or so now). Just because something is Low Impact doesn't mean it's easy or you won't sweat either. With the current state of your joints, I'd just suggest the pool with some walking of laps and some nice easy swimming for now.

Broz said...

Pilates is also low impact. It focuses on strengthening your "core," the muscles of your stomach and lower back. You do most of the class on your back, raising your chest and legs in different positions, though there are also series where you are on your stomach or side.

It's one of those classes that people either totally fall in love with or they completely hate. You get a VERY intense abdominal workout so in terms of efficient use of time for exercise, I'd say it's one of the best. A good "cross-training" type activity to do once a week for muscle strength and conditioning. It is NOT cardio.

I fall in and out of love with it. It is definitely worth a try in case you may be one of those people for whom it instantly clicks. If not, then no great loss, there are plenty of other exercise options, but it is the most abdominally focused class that exists in my opinion. Ballerinas use it.

mensa said...

I don't think Zumba will work for you because of the impact on your joints but Yoga may be good and there are all different phases of it. Good luck.

Megan S @ Gourmet or Go Home said...

I have been on a big Pilates kick lately. I really struggle with my core looking and feeling sort of loose and lumpy and Pilates has shown me better results in that area than anything else. I reccomend looking for a beginning class and letting the instructor know that you are new and have knee problems and they will show you helpful modifications. It also helps with toning small muscles that support your joints and the large muscles that hold everything in and together (like the pelvic floor). Also most of it is done sitting or on your back so while it is a killer workout it is quite low impact.

Zumba is super fun but high impact and I've struggled with my knees (and they are not as bad as yours) due to all the pivoting and dancing. You would have to be careful and modify.

Good luck! I've been thinking for a long time that you might be a perfect fit for Pilates, but that might just be because I'm so into it right now:)

Susannah said...

I love my Pilates classes. I took yoga classes for almost 2 years, but I prefer Pilates. A good instructor will help you modify and I found there was less kneeling than yoga and no lunges (good for strength, of course, but hard if your knees aren't great)
Have fun!

Amy said...

I haven't tried any of the classes, but I've done yoga videos and have loved how they make me feel. They give you a good stretch but also work the muscles in a slow,controlled way so it's very low impact on your joints. I think you would like yoga.

Diandra said...

Best to talk to your trusted specialist about this. I am sure everybody reading here has their own personal favorite exercise they swear by, but since none of us is in your shoes (or rather, knees)... All these exercises have their advantages and disadvantages.

Yoga can help you relax and is rather low-impact, but it can damage tendons and joints if not done properly.

Pilates works on core strength and builds on what you bring, but it can be rather boring - and some teachers have a really weird esoteric way about themselves.

Zumba is fun, but it involves lots of being on your feet, steping and changing directions and maybe even jumping, possibly not the best for your knees.

I don't know a thing about the other options, so... really, best talk to either a doctor or an instructor on site. A doctor might know more about the topic.

Andra said...

First off, Pilates WILL NOT lengthen your muscles. I'm not sure where this BS came from, but it's not true. If you want longer muscles, you'll have to see a surgeon. There are plenty of articles out there debunking this myth.

I've always liked Zumba, it's so much fun if you like dancing. But Zumba is very hard on the knees so if you are prone to injury, I would avoid it until your knees are stronger.

I prefer working out in the free weights section, lifting heavy, throwing in some HIIT on the Mountain climber then getting out.

Here is a great article about steady state cardio and why it's not all it's cracked up to be~ V=

New Rules of Lifting for Women is the place to start when deciding on a gym routine. Body weight exercises and free weight exercises are much more effective than the machines.

And for heaven's sake STAY OFF THE SMITH MACHINE. Your knees will thank you.

stephseef said...

Zumba is really, really fun. Works muscles without feeling like work, and is a great cardio kick. I have rheumatoid arthritis and terrible knees so I can't manage much impact at all, so I'm either at a spinning class (my absolute fave), in the pool doing laps, or at Zumba. Best of luck!!

Darcy Winters said...

A friend of mine tried Zumba, but she has knee problems and said it really put too much stress on them.

Talk to the manager of the gym and see which class they think would be best for you to try. You could just give each one a go and then decide which one you like best.

April said...

Group fitness classes have definitely changed since the mid-90's. and much like college the instructor can make or break a class, so keep that in mind. tried a Zumba class and hated it? try it again with a different instructor. always remember this is YOUR workout. you don't have do anything that an instructor teaches, and a good instructor should always show modifications for the more strenous moves. i would highly suggest trying a water class, just to try it.
i never thought i would do group fitness classes, and now that's pretty much the only way i'll go to the gym, is if i have a group fitness class to go to.

katie said...

Yoga bores me to tears. I love Pilates. Bought a machine 4 years ago. Gentle yet powerful. Quiet and repetitive makes it meditative.
No joint pains for me.


Anonymous said...

It's probably a good idea to see you physical therapist before you start, to get the best recommendations. I also have bad knees, and I've done spinning, but got approval from my doctor and had to be sure the seat was properly aligned.

Hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions WHO IS EXPERIENCED WITH PEOPLE WITH YOUR CONDITIONS is also a good idea.

Good luck! I'm also heading back to the gym much more once my little boy is back at school.

Maria :)

Good luck!

Vb said...

Andra- you are so right on! Nail on head.

Anonymous said...

This is going to sound crazy BUT I honestly think CrossFit might be great for you. They can work with any, and I mean any, skill level (people at my "box" are all at different fitness levels, some can't jog one single block, or lift anything heavier than 10 lbs, but the coaches still make it work for them!). They can modify any move to fit your limitations (knees, feet, shoulder, etc.). You will get stronger, you will get fitter, and you will probably lose weight, even just going twice a week. It is expensive, but in my opinion totally worth it. After doing years and years of yoga, pilates, running, hiking, and dance, xfit is the only thing that has actually helped me feel stronger.

Claire said...

Zumba is fun, but a killer. I would start with yoga. The ones at my gym are really great; though I do like one instructor over the others.

Pilates won't "lengthen" muscles, but that type of exercise does give you lovely ballet dancer-type muscles, which is why people use the word "lengthen."

Vickie said...

I would avoid any impact of any kind in all activities so you can exercise and participate in your normal life activities on a regular basis.

so, no zumba, no low impact anything, no running, no step classes, probably no walking (in my opinion).

The best cardio for someone with your circumstances is swimming laps at the pool if you have access. It might not be your favorite thing, but it is effective.

you might try the rower to see how it works for you. it might be easier on your knees and feet than a bike. Someone has to teach you correct positioning so you do not have lower back strain.

A recumbent bike might be easier than upright.

When you have your weight off, you can evaluate where your knees and feet are going to be long term.

Until that time, in my opinion, you want to do things that help you meet your goals, with NO RISK of sidelining you.

If you do impact things, in my opinion, you will cycle back through injuries/conditions.

I think classes are wonderful. I work harder in class than on my own. It is just the right amount of socialization. There should be NO socialization during class. But it is nice to work in a group environment and you do build passing in the hall type friendships.

I started with yoga and pilates at 215 pounds and no real muscle tone or endurance. I was also walking at that time because my knees could take it.

Pilates was a great physical, learning experience for me.

I learned most excellent positioning and really progressed in understanding the parts of my body in pilates.

When you start pilates, you will NOT be able to do things just like people who have been in the class for a long time nor the people who are thin. It is just a simple fact.

In pilates for example, they will have their legs in the air and you will have your feet on the floor. You want your feet on the floor so you build ab muscle without straining your lower back.

in yoga they will have their hands on the floor and you will have your hands at your thigh or knee (triangle pose).

This is what I call leaving ones EGO AT THE DOOR.

We all have to start at the beginning.

I had belly in the way and boobs in the way for a long time. My instructors helped me work around them. To be very honest, my pilates instructor had me do lie downs instead of sit ups. I would lie down very slowly and then roll over to my side and push myself up to do another one. It was a long time before I could sit up, but lying down worked the same muscles. Or other times I would just reach forward with my arms, with the intension of sitting up, but did not really get very far, again, as long as the muscles are working, you are doing something.

Poses in both pilates and yoga are not always what they seem. It might seem that getting ones hand to the floor is IT, but actually the important part might be opening the hip.

the type of yoga you described is more of a meditation thing. That is rarely taught at a gym.

Yoga at gyms are usually more about exercise. They are most excellent for stretching out the body.

I loved using a simple yoga class to stretch out after doing other exercise.

Vickie said...

You will want to start in a very basic yoga class to learn positioning. Not all yoga instructors at gyms are yoga certified instructors. I would suggest looking for the instructors who are 'picky' about positioning and have their yoga certification so you learn correctly.

In yoga, it was hard for me to slow down my mind and be alone with myself on my mat. My first yoga instructor, as we worked on positioning, would say - as those random thoughts come into your head, acknowledge they are there and then mentally blow them gently away as if they were a little cloud.

I have seen a lot of people come and then GO in classes, over the years, because their ego got in the way and they had no common sense. They tried to do everything in advanced positions and did not listen to instructions.

most instructors will not call you out by name. They will make a general suggestion to the room. It is good to apply the suggestion each time.

if an instructor is kind enough to come over and bodily correct you, it means - they see promise in you, they see you are there to learn, they see you are open to listening, they see you want to progress.

I say 'thank you' very quietly or smile and nod and show them I heard and am applying, to this day, whenever an instructor comes over and bodily corrects me.

I don't argue, I don't explain, I don't make complications.

Instructors will correct me, to this day, because I am open to it. I continue to grow in all my practices.

Yoga (and pilates too) is a practice, we are always practicing, we are never perfect.

Vickie said...

I personally think it is smart not to get too reliant on machines.

Pilates machines (for example) are out there, and I have used them. But I think it is better to learn to work the body than learn to work the machine.

Pilates is one thing that can be done with no machine (yes, I realize mr pilates started with machines).

I take free weight classes rather than using the weight machines. this is another area where learning correct positioning is vital. learning means listening (and then apply) to the instructor when she says things to the whole class.

I use an elliptical because it provides me with NO IMPACT cardio. And that is important for me. (Actually at this point I am on my elliptical with a cast/boot)

And as I said, if you can use them with no back problems, a rower is most excellent.

Anonymous said...

Vickie is so spot on. You do NOT want to damage your already damaged joints any further. You really want to baby them and take any potential threats/risks seriously. I would swim until you get more weight off and/or you have built up some more muscle strength. It is too easy to hurt yourself and totally derail your health for months/years.

Anonymous said...

I just want to put in a plug for yoga. I've been going to hot yoga classes for a bit over a year and my feet are so much better it's amazing. A year ago I couldn't walk around in my bare feet for any amount of time and now I can go barefoot all day long without pain. I couldn't dance barefoot at all and on my recent birthday I was able to dance barefoot for hours -- probably couldn't have danced for hours in any case, a year ago.

Also, this may be partially the "hot" part of the yoga but when I was going regularly, my upper arms -- yes, the parts that have seemed unfixable -- were heading towards fixed, to the extent that I could see having no upper arm jiggle in my future. Pretty exciting stuff!

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

I think you just have to dive right in there.

Some strength-training, some swimming, rowing, whatever - you won't know until you try it.

Have you had a trip to the gym since joining?


Anonymous said...

I didn’t know I liked group fitness until my gym got Les Mills classes, and I love, love, love them.

I envy you having Body Vive available to you; my gym recently dropped that class. It is the greatest fun! It is a totally no-impact challenge, all the moves have options so you can do it at various levels of difficulty. The instructor should be showing the options (but they don‘t always do so).

If you haven’t done that kind of thing before, you might feel a little lost in some of the dance-type numbers, so if you try it, I encourage you to give it 3 changes before giving up. I found that it takes about three times to get into the groove and after that it’s pure fun.

Anonymous said...

Also, they didn’t suggest Les Mills Body Pump to you, but if your gym offers it, I very much recommend it.

I had never lifted weights in my life until I tried Body Pump and I went from “Weights? Boring” to loving it. Like the other Les Mills classes, you can do it at your own level. At our gym, we even have a few people doing the class that just carry the bar alone without weights, or with just a tiny 1-kg weight. Anything goes, the important thing is to challenge yourself, not to measure yourself against others.

Anyway, since you’ve already done weights on your own, you wouldn’t be coming to it as the raw beginner that I was, but if you try the class, you may feel like April said above, “I never thought I would do group fitness classes, and now that's pretty much the only way i'll go to the gym, is if i have a group fitness class to go to.” That’s me, too.