There’s an article quickly circulating and posted on cnn.com that I would like to address. I have been a spin class instructor as well as an instructor of other fitness classes and personal training sessions. As a responsible health and fitness coach and trainer, this article I read gets my goat. The article is titled, Why intense workouts are leading to a life-threatening condition. I hate the title! It immediately instills fear of intense exercise and this is just not necessary. People tend to give themselves enough excuses for avoiding exercise. I’m not surprised by the extreme title, given that it’s coming from CNN. A shocking title grabs attention. It sure grabbed mine.
Nothing against the author though. She does a great job of illustrating how to avoid the dangers of going into a new modality of exercise without consideration of your current physical conditioning level before starting. In this case, the exercise modality of focus is spinning, and the mentioned condition of risk is rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome due to a muscle injury and results from the death of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream, which can cause serious renal problems. The onset of this condition can be completely avoided by taking the simple precaution of gradually increasing your physical conditioning to the level of intensity desired. This can be hard to judge with the introduction of a new exercise program, so you may want to consult with a professional when beginning an exercise program of any kind. Spinning class is the exercise modality of focus in the aforementioned article and this supporting point is made by Dr. Brogan of New York Medical College, “I mean, spinning, you burn 600 calories in an hour, and you lose up to a liter an hour of sweat. Six hundred calories is like running six miles. So if you’re not conditioned, you wouldn’t just run six miles.” The article also mentions that “of the 46 people documented in medical literature who got rhabdomyolysis from a spin class, 42 developed it after their first class.” They were not conditioned for the intensity of the exercise.
Dehydration can also a be a factor in maintaining the integrity of your muscles while exercising. So, it’s important to hydrate before, during, and after exercise of any kind always.
I don’t think it’s important to name the popular fitness company that employed the trainer who was instructing the class where the featured victim in this article or any one else sustained injury. This could happen in any kind of workout class lead by an instructor and a person could self-inflict a condition such as rhabdomyolysis going solo if so motivated to exercise intensely enough. However, I’ll say that if an instructor does not pay attention to the physical condition level of a new student, this should come across as a big red flag.
It’s important to be aware of your own physical conditioning level when engaging in exercise of any kind. this is of particular importance when you are engaging in a modality of exercise that you are not use to or have not done before. The culture of a class may be more intense than one can handle and it’s often tempting to keep up with the class, which may or may not be comprised of seasoned workout veterans who have been doing that particular type of exercise in that environment for years and are much more conditioned for it than you are. So, just be aware of this before joining a new exercise class.
Yes, intense exercise should be approached with caution, but this doesn’t justify giving it a bad rap. I would add just a quick mention of the importance of intense exercise to offset the blown-out-of-proportion risk. Intense workouts offer benefits that are good to know so that there is a reasonable perception of the importance of incorporating intense exercise into a training regimen when appropriate. Intense exercise isn’t for everyone, but those who can greatly benefit from it need not be scared off due to an article they read. benefits of high-intensity exercise include higher metabolism, a stronger and healthier heart, being more likely to stick to it, boosted endurance, and it can save time.
Take reasonable precaution and enjoy getting fit!