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not all fitness classes are created safely (and #wiaw)

Posted Feb 27 2013 9:51am
Yo and hello!
First, hello to any new readers who may be stumbling onto Sweating It by way of Washingtonian! Yesterday I was featured on the magazine's Well+Being Blog Food Diaries series. If you haven't yet,  check out my post  (which they titled "How a busy, fitness-obsessed grad student eats"- love it!). It's in the spirit of What I Ate Wednesday after all :)

Not All Fitness Classes Are Created Safely
Before I get to the week's other eats, I want to revisit a post I made in September about the benefits and pitfalls of hot yoga . It occurred to me when I was practicing last week that since then, I've gravitated toward a heated practice. This is partly because of convenience -- the studios most accessible to me in terms of distance and moohlah have happened to be hot. But I also realized that not all hot yoga is created equal... or safely, for that matter. The studios I have been practicing in lately take care to cultivate a supportive environment where students can explore, play, and stretch their limits without risking injury.

My sweat-soaked shirt after a recent hot yoga class.

I went back to the studio that established my disdain for heated practice the other day. The class was taught by a the owner of the studio, who I had never practiced with before. At first I thought perhaps I had misjudged the studio based on a few less-than-stellar experiences; this teacher tried to include more of the spiritual side of yoga in her class, which had been missing from others I had taken there.

But when we reached the pinnacle of the practice, backbends, we were ordered, not invited, to take six wheels in a row. When students were struggling to get up on the third and fourth repetitions, the teacher said something like, "You don't want a teacher who babies you. You want a teacher who pushes you further."

This may be true, but one of the most important parts of yoga is truly listening to your body, and understanding when it requires a more restorative pose or even a day off. At no point during this practice were students reminded that it's okay to take child's pose when your body needs a break. Additionally, with more difficult poses like wheel, it is SO important that teachers describe how to safely get into the pose and give alignment cues to avoid injury. These hints weren't given. The "encouragement" of the teacher's statement "I can do 12 wheels in a row, you can certainly do six!" was all we got.

So, I'd like to amend my previous statement. It's not hot yoga that's bad. When practiced safely, with ample student-teacher interaction, it is an extremely beneficial addition to any regular yoga routine. What sucks is that hot yoga brings out the crazy yogis who put badassery above safety, sweat above effort, and muscles above peace of mind and body.  These are the type of yogis that have fueled the ongoing New York Times/Science of Yoga saga .

The bottom line: PLEASE make sure that at any fitness class you attend - yoga, body pump, zumba, whatever - you are getting ample instruction and guidance. Nothing can derail your path to fitness more than an injury that could plague you your entire life.

Now that I'm off my soapbox, here's a few eats from the past few days

  • Before our first private  wedding dance lesson this Saturday morning, we stopped at Silver Diner , a small chain that focuses on locally-sourced goodness.  I got a country scrambler, which included mushrooms, peppers, onions, sausage and... gravy! Since I changed my order at the last second, I actually didn't realize I had ordered something with gravy until it came, but it was darn tasty. And I didn't feel horrible afterward either. It was filling for our lesson and our second trip to Ikea in the span of a week- wins all around.
  • Sunday night we whipped out our new cast iron skillet and made a Chicken and Kale Pizza Bake . It was both easy and tasty served with a side salad and fed us a few lunches as well. I'm loving our cast iron skillet so far- one pan means super easy cleanup!
  • Breakfast Tuesday morning was overnight oats with strawberries and my usual almond milk latte sweetened with Stevia. I'm so pumped that the first strawberries of spring are making their way up from the south. They totally started my day with a bang of sweetness and sunshine yesterday.
  • Monday night after an ass-kicking hot yoga class, Gina and I met our friend Ross at  Pizzeria Paradiso , one of DC's best upscale pizza joints. I ate more food than I care to admit, including this little personal pizza guy, but whatever, it was delicious and I was hangry
  • Mike made yummy Asian lettuce wraps for dinner last night, which I was very grateful for since the torrential rain had soaked me to the bone. 
  • It's going to be a beautiful, spring-like day in DC! I'm going to get some thesis work done and hit the pavement later. Happy hump day :)
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