In the past few years, doctors have seen a rise in shoulder, hip and knee woes caused by high impact exercise, says Dr Eugene Yim, a sports medicine specialist at the Hoag Orthopedic Institute. Aggressive gym time can also lead to stress fractures, sprains and muscle tears, he says. Then there’s an alarming condition called rhabdomyolysis, a severe form of muscle breakdown that can cause kidney damage – and which, you guessed it, has recently been linked to the rise in extreme workouts. ‘Some people are just pushing too hard,’ says Dr Maureen Brogan, a clinical associate professor of medicine at New York Medical College, who has studied kidney damage in indoor cyclists.
But the solution isn’t to skip balls-to-the-wall workouts – it’s to practise smarter fitness. To slay your tough classes without effing up your body, follow this advice.
1 Learn to love the ramp-up
No matter how fit you are, going from 0 to 100 can set you up for major muscle strain, says certified trainer Andy Galpin, director of the Biochemistry and Molecular Exercise Physiology Laboratory at California State University, and coauthor of Unplugged.
Before you take your first high-intensity class, spend four to six weeks gradually increasing the potency of your regular workouts. Add short bursts of speed to your cardio routine, or start lifting heavier weights with fewer reps. If you’re mo