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There are many ways to injure yourself in a fitness class, especially for beginners. Here are some of the easiest ways to do it (and how to avoid them!).

What To Do Wrong

First, pick the wrong class. Make sure it’s full of unfamiliar movements and is fast-paced enough that you can’t figure anything out properly.

Next, don’t show up warm, especially if you have injury sites that usually need extra attention.

Let your pride guide you rather than reason, and at all costs, try to keep up with your neighbour.

Take a weight that’s too heavy for you, and brace inadequately for the movement.

Finally, be sloppy putting away your weights… because now the workout’s over, right?

But Seriously

In all seriousness, though, what are the principles that beginners in particular can follow to NOT get injured in a class they’re taking for the first time?

  • Choose the right class for your level. There is usually someone you can check in with, or even look up e-reviews in advance.
  • Warm up before class to be on the safe side, especially if you have any tender joints (here are some tips).
  • Let the teacher know you’re new
  • Listen to your inner voice if trying a new move, and stay conservative when progressions are explained (i.e. pick the easy variant at first)
  • Consider investing in a few sessions with a personal trainer beforehand so that your movement “vocabulary” is sound and your brace under load is done properly.
  • Recognize certain types of moves that are most likely to injure you. For the back, these include, especially when they are combined together:
    • Forward flexion
    • Rotation
    • Uncontrolled ballistic movement
    • Under load
  • Here are some examples of particularly tricky moves for the low back: burpees, forward kicks, sit-ups, double leg raise.
  • Know that knees are often not crazy about walking lunges, and be ready to substitute a reverse lunge
  • Be aware that many injuries in the weight room often occur when putting your weights away – unfavourable angles can combine with eccentric muscle contractions to leave you unduly sore afterwards.

If All Else Fails

And if none of the above manages to keep you injury-free? First check in with your health care provider, then come to any of my classes at The Bar.