Not all exercise is created equal. We’ve got the scoop on seven fad workouts you might want to consider bailing on.
While running at the park, going on a hike, yoga, hitting the treadmill or lifting weights at your local gym are all long standing, acceptable forms of exercise, many of us seek out new ways to trick ourselves into liking exercise. We may also just want some fresh ways to shed the pounds. But it’s important to be careful when picking your new fitness fad, as some of them cause injuries, especially if you try them without an instructor. Others are just so insanely silly it’s hard to take them seriously, especially if you are serious about changing your body.
With that, here’s seven fitness fads Today.com recommends getting rid of. Can’t say we don’t agree!
Pole dancing. We’re all for female empowerment and the idea that there’s a fun exercise that gets you feeling and looking great. And no doubt that pole dancing takes skill, balance and coordination and is probably a tough workout… if done right and by someone who really knows what they’re doing. But let’s talk frankly: pole dancing is actually pretty risky and injury prone. I mean, duh, you’re spinning upside down ON A POLL. Apparently, pole dance forums regularly allude to bumps, bruises, cracked ribs and broken toes, according to Dr. Ryan Stanton, a Lexington, Ky., emergency room doctor. That’s just the start, says Stanton, who’s also seen back, ankle and wrist injuries. “The majority of injuries are associated with falls,” he says. “And there’s also a risk of skin infections like strep and staph if the pole hasn’t been adequately sterilized.” Gross.
Yoga mash-ups. “Yoga’s not good enough on its own any more,” says Stanton, a spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians or ACEP. “Now you have to turn up the temperature or do it on a paddleboard.” Or do it naked while suspended from the ceiling in a white “anti-gravity” bundle. Stanton says he’s treated people who’ve passed out in hot yoga classes and warns that the practice can be dangerous for people with heart disease. Plain ol’ regular yoga should do the trick for most people, and if you’re not feeling challenged enough, ask your studio for advice on a tougher class. No need to get crazy.
Gas mask training. Good enough for the military, good enough for the rest of us? Not so fast. While us regular folk seem to be jumping on the gas mask bandwagon, training for high altitude runs/climbs or just to restrict their oxygen intake for a much tougher workout, does this actually sound healthy… to anyone? Stanton compares the practice to “being strangled while you’re exercising.” No thanks, people.
Backwards running. Also known as reverse running, retro running or “gninnur” (“running” spelled backwards, cute!), backwards running is a sometimes-used rehab exercise for athletes with pulled hamstrings. It’s also an oft-used drill for football players. But now it’s become much more than that, as the trend has sparked races, a world champion and even an attempt to make it an Olympic sport. Say what!? “That one’s really crazy,” says Jason Karp, an exercise physiologist from San Diego. “Humans are not meant to walk backward. It’s not how we’re designed. My major concern is that you’d trip and fall.” Doesn’t take a genius…
Stiletto workouts. Apparently, according to proponets, working out in sky-high heels can strengthen your core, improve your balance and give you toned, taut legs. But if that were the case, wouldn’t all those ladies in NYC who walk all over the city in those things everyday all be sporting banging bodies? Neal Pire, an exercise physiologist and fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, call this fitness craze — dubbed, let is be known, the “the world’s worst workout” by Prevention Magazine — unnatural. “When you wear high heels, you’re shortening your Achilles tendon, throwing off your center of gravity and putting stress on your lower back. And then there’s what happens in your feet.” ER doc Stanton is more blunt: “Anything in stilettos is an ankle injury waiting to happen,” he says.
MOB races. “Mud, obstacle and beer” doesn’t sound too bad, right? Endurance challenges like the Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash have inspired this fad, which a study by the ACEP found that a single competition last June resulted in 38 ER visits. 38! Sadly, there have even been a handful of deaths. “This is a really high risk activity,” says Stanton. “People train for marathons but Tough Mudders attract people who have no intention of training — they just want to get out and run in the mud. It’s risky enough for the person in good shape, much less someone who hasn’t run 3 miles in the last year.”
Stability ball stands. Balance or stability balls are nothing new. They’re an amazing gym prop for doing crunches and stretching, and maybe a few other tricky maneuvers if you’ve got a trainer handy. Unfortunately, it seems some show-offs have gotten ahold of the things and started doing hot dog moves like standing atop a ball while doing bicep curls or shoulder presses. “I’ve seen contusions to the sacrum and lower back,” says Stanton. “I’ve seen people hit weight machines, hit benches, hit other people.” Stanton calls the tendency to push the fitness envelope “testosterone syndrome” or the “jock effect.” “People get to a gym and try to do more than they’re capable of,” he says. “But gravity always wins the day.” Stick to the basics, people. They’re gold standards for a reason.
What is your preferred method of working out? Have you ever tried any of these fitness fads? Let us know in the comments below!