Spinning Classes: Could This Latest Fitness Trend Kill You?

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Spinning Classes
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There’s no doubt that spinning is having its time in the spotlight as the current “it girl” of the workout scene. With plenty of celebrity endorsements and spinning studios popping up on countless corners, it might be the biggest fitness trend of the past year.

But, are spinning classes also dangerous?

Spinning Classes Can Cause Serious Harm

According to a recent report, spinning classes can lead to Rhabdomyolysis, a rare condition brought on by overexertion. The symptoms include the inability to walk, severe muscle swelling, vomiting, and possible kidney failure. And, for those who are diagnosed with this condition, dialysis may be the only way to hold onto their lives.

Rhabdomyolysis can happen to anybody at any fitness level if they push too hard. And it doesn’t just occur with spinning. As you might imagine, it most often occurs in members of the military and big-time weight lifters—two groups who repeatedly and regularly put their bodies under intense physical stress.

Now, I don’t want to scare you. Spinning is not, and never will be, bad for you if you do it properly.

ABC News recently reported that there are 42 documented cases of Rhabdomyolysis as a result of spinning directly following the first class. These people went too hard, too fast, and did more than their body could handle.

Listen to Your Body!

Overexertion is easily preventable if you listen to your body and commit to an incremental approach. So, to avoid danger, work within your limits. You should also keep in mind that everyone has different capacities when it comes to exercise stress and intensity.

I’m sure this strategy is quite challenging in a spinning class where the instructor at the front of the room is urging you to go faster and harder. Not to mention the fact that you’re being motivated by the pumping legs, glistening brows, and determined faces of the other participants.

If it’s your first spinning class, you’re not going to be up to the high level of those surrounding you. You have to listen to your body, even if the adrenaline rush is making it seem like anything is possible.

For the first few weeks, go at a comfortable pace. Over time, your body will adapt, and you’ll be able to go harder, faster, and with greater intensity.

This approach is true for any type of exercise you choose. The key to exhibiting sustainable and positive physical adaptation is through progressive overload. Gradually increasing the intensity each time you work out is safe and sustainable, and can protect you from overexertion.

Symptoms of Overexertion

Some physical symptoms of overexertion worth noting include intense thirst, poor form, and noticeable weakness—like you can’t stand and pedal. Afterwards, if you have severe muscle pain, dark urine, and experience vomiting or nausea, you’ve surely overdone it and should check in with your doctor.

But please don’t let this rare condition deter you from taking part in some form of exercise. With a structured approach, you can safely reach your goals and be able to go as fast and hard as the veterans.

And remember; always hydrate yourself before, during, and after any workout.

“New Report Highlights Potential Health Risks of Spin Classes,” ABC News, July 2017; http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/report-highlights-potential-health-risks-spin-classes-48716070, last accessed August 1, 2017.
O’Connor, A., “As Workouts Intensify, a Harmful Side Effect Grows More Common,” The New York Times, July 17, 2017; https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/17/well/move/as-workouts-intensify-a-harmful-side-effect-grows-more-common.html?_r=0, last accessed August 1, 2017.
Brogan, M., et al., “Freebie Rhabdomyolysis: A Public Health Concern. Spin Class-Induced Rhabdomyolysis,” The American Journal of Medicine, April 2017; 130(4): 484-487. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.11.004.
Parmar, S., et al., “Rhabdomyolysis after spin class?” The Journal of Family Practice, October 2012; 61(10): 584-586; http://www.mdedge.com/jfponline/article/64872/musculoskeletal-disorders/rhabdomyolysis-after-spin-class, last accessed August 1, 2017.