Beware of the slippery slope. Mentally, we get in the habit of thinking less is more – or more is more – when really, there is an optimal balance we are seeking in order to look and feel our finest.
As a fitness instructor, there are times when I give myself the green light to workout excessively. Especially after I’ve missed a couple of days of teaching, I think:
I’ll make up some hours…a little extra money, no worries – I’m fresh, I can manage, I’ll go light.
Nope. None of the above. Three BodyPump classes in 24 hours is not a good idea…16 classes in a week also not recommended! I’m not disclosing this to brag, I’m disclosing this to reveal a common fitness mistake:
Oftentimes, we give ourselves permission to overdo or we overdo unknowingly thinking it will help us get closer to our fitness goals when it, in fact, takes us farther away.
The reality is I would look and feel finer had I spread out three BodyPump classes evenly over the week. And, instead of 16 classes, I would just teach seven classes this week. Even though I conscientiously adjusted my caloric fuel to assist with energy and recovery, by BodyPump #3 in 24 hours, my strength was zapped and I was retaining water in my midsection.
Truth: I looked and felt like crap.
Instructors do this all the time. Teach too much. Teach to injury. Some are even criticized for their appearance because they don’t look as good as they “should” (according to some member’s standard comparing instructor X to fitness model Y in Self magazine who is either photoshopped or has not worked out for days in order to be photoshoot ready). Understand the instructor’s imperfect physique is not for insufficient exercise, it’s often for excessive exercise and inadequate recovery (and/or poor nutrition).
Members do this, too. My recommendation is one and done. On my regular schedule, I only teach back-to-back classes when I’m teaching a willPower format (coached). Anything more than an hour and you are dipping into muscle reserves…or you are not working out intensely enough. Frankly, it’s one or the other.
At the end of my willPower & grace (“wP&g”) class last Saturday, I was approached by a fellow instructor. Beautiful figure, dancer’s body. She asked about wP&g because she thought it would help her. She told me she had to give up all of her Zumba classes because it had resulted in a spinal injury. A spinal injury! While those of us in the fitness industry tend to think of high injury rates with formats like CrossFit, we should not exclude any format.
With Zumba, it’s all of the jarring jerky movements — the “vibration” needed to up the calorie burn — that damaged this instructor’s spinal cord. (Side note: she was a professionally-trained dancer.) She also admitted to poor (depletive) eating habits in her twenties and thirties – so she could expose her midsection and represent the perfect figure her studio clients strived for. But, once she hit menopause, her bone density dropped. Too many years of dieting without enough attention to Vitamin D and strength training. So now, she can only do yoga and is meticulous about getting enough Vitamin D in her diet.
On Monday, I had a member tell me she was dizzy after class. I asked if she had eaten before class.
Oh yes, eggs and fruit.”
Prodded further, she admitted it was just one egg with some cantaloupe. Had she fueled herself better (e.g. 3 egg whites and a 1/3 c of oatmeal), she wouldn’t have experienced that blood sugar crash. (For more on fruit and protein, listen to the first episode of Fitness is Served on Star’s Locker via iTunes or SoundCloud.)
And, it’s not just women either. My husband, like many men (and women) used to be neurotic about training abs. Every day. Even if he woke up in the middle of the night realizing he had forgotten, he would get them done. He thought doing abdominal exercises every day would bring him closer to his six-pack. He, fortunately, learned in his twenties the error in his ways…and he has had a six-pack ever since! Abs will be discussed on next week’s episode. Well, either that or Greek yogurt… Stay tuned.