Is Spin Class Killing You?

The New York Times reports on a hospitalization after a person’s first spin class, and notes that “at least 46 other cases of people developing the condition after a spin class were documented in the medical literature, 42 of them in people taking their first class.”

Pushing beyond our boundaries is a good thing, until we find ourselves exhausted or sore to the point of destroying our own torn muscles. That process of massive muscle breakdown, called rhabdomyolysis, is what caused hospitalization.

How do you know you’ve gone too far? You know if you’ve had experience with lower intensity work outs and spent a couple of days limping around. But if you’re just starting out, you may look around you and see the other experienced

But if you’re just starting out, you may look around you and see the other experienced cyclers working at twice your speed. Human competitive spirit can kick in and you can push yourself beyond sanity.

Of course, the experts are quick to add that they would never discourage exercise in any form. But when you’ve pushed beyond your boundaries, that’s not exercise. It’s like starting an exercise group with hundred pound barbells and telling them to lift it. They might do it, but only by injuring themselves. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

As we get busier lives, the push to intensify exercise feels seductive. Maximize performance, minimize time. Isn’t that the modern mantra? But we need to remember that just because our phones got upgraded last week our knees didn’t get improved any time recently. Pushing our bodies beyond what they can reasonably do is a recipe for injury, not a lifestyle choice. IMG_0754

Perhaps in the future we’ll have an outdoor saunter class for every spin class, more people walking than weight lifting. But until we find balance as a society, find your limits slowly and honor them.

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