Adventure 1: ZUMBA
Being a physical therapist, I am quick to lecture about the latest stats about the importance of exercise and how doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day can reduce your risk of many serious diseases. I have been active all of my life, engaging in sports, running, biking and going to the gym, but after many years of doing these things I wanted to try something new. I have been going to the same gym for 10 years and have only engaged in one of the group classes. As a new year’s resolution I decided to spice up my workouts and try some of the classes that my gym has to offer. The first class I wanted to experiment with was Zumba.
I have heard some good and some not so good things about this Latin inspired dance exercise class. From a personal standpoint, I have had friends describe it as “fun” and “a good way to shed some pounds”. The website does define it as a “fitness party”. From a professional standpoint, I have seen quite a few patients who have claimed to hurt their knee, ankle, etc during a class. Because of this, I had to try it out to see the pros and cons of Zumba, and of course, see if it is something I would recommend to my patients once they are discharged from therapy.
The class was on a Thursday night and started to fill up quickly with a variety of people. The age range of the group was between 16 and 76 years. There was a mix of beginners as well as advanced Zumba professionals. The class began with the instructor starting up some modern dance music and just starting the dance routine. This is a little nerve wracking for a physical therapist without rhythm and no prior Zumba experience!
The purpose of Zumba is to keep it upbeat and energetic. It is supposed to be a party, not a traditional group aerobic exercise class that is why instruction is minimal to none. As we went through the hour long program, I did notice that they were targeting most of the major muscle groups. There was also an opportunity of small rest breaks which I found to be beneficial, as did most of the class. However, I did find myself focusing more on getting the moves right. I wanted to be sure I was working each muscle group properly with proper form, probably more so than some of the other participants. There were definitely some moves that I could see why people get injured. The physical therapist inside of me would not allow me to just “let loose” and have fun with it, but it forced me to focus on getting the most out of my workout. By the end of the session, I realized that I probably never laughed so much through a workout before. It was definitely the fastest one hour workout I had ever had, so I could see where this type of workout would appeal to a large number of people.
So from a physical therapy standpoint, here are my recommendations regarding Zumba:
1) If you are new to working out, you should seek out a gym that will start you out with some private personal training sessions. A personal trainer will be able to go through basic Zumba movements, like lunges, side squats etc and educate you on the proper techniques for these exercises. If you go into a Zumba class and just follow along without prior knowledge of this, you are more likely to get hurt. Another idea would be to try a Zumba workout DVD or video game first so that you can do it at your own pace.
2) On your first few sessions, SLOW DOWN! Do not worry if you are not keeping up with the class. Make sure to slow down the movements and do not rush from one move to another. If they skip ahead to a new move and you are still on the one before, just keep doing that one until a new move is started. Do not try to rush through it.
3) Most classes are just a “Zumba” class. According to the Zumba website, there are different Zumba classes. For those starting out or perhaps those with physical limitations, the Zumba Gold classes may be best. Zumba Gold modifies the moves to slow the pace down. It changes the moves to make them appropriate to those starting out. You may want to visit the Zumba website to see the different types of classes and decide which is best for you.
4) If you have any history of knee, foot, ankle, or back injury, you may want to see your local physical therapist to assess any risk of injury. There are certain movements that may aggravate a previous injury so a physical therapist may be able to identify any weaknesses or stability issues that may make you more prone to re-injury. For instances, if you experience pain with lunges or squats normally, then the same lunges or squats during Zumba are probably going to hurt as well. A physical therapist may help you to become pain free with these exercises and prepare you for Zumba classes.
5) Listen to your body!! If a certain movement hurts, do not do it.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at PSSM Newtown or schedule a consultation 215-504-2223. Our new 10,000 square foot professional office is modern and spacious conveniently located right on the Newtown Bypass on 828-A Newtown Yardley Road, Newtown PA, one mile from 95 South. We offer a variety of services like orthopedics, non-surgical pain management, chiropractic, physical therapy, podiatry, GAIT analysis all under one roof! Our convenient location allows us to treat anyone that takes the Newtown Bypass( route 332). We see patients from Newtown, Yardley, Richboro, Holland, Washington Crossing and Langhorne.