Question: I have a couple of friends who are trying to get me to come to their Zumba classes and claim it’s the only way to really get into shape. I am not sure if I am ready for that type of exercise. Is it really that effective?
Answer: Since this type of workout has become so pop-ular lately, I have made it a point to attend some classes. Zumba is definitely a good workout. The cardio aspect is especially good and if you like to dance, it’s a fun way to get your exercise and burn some calories. If you enjoy it, you’ll be more likely to do it regularly. Being consistent in your exercise program is the key to getting good results.
The question is whether or not Zumba is right for you. If you are not embarrassed to shake your “groove thing” a bit in front of other people and you can feel OK about not being able to do all the moves right away (I wasn’t able to do some of the more “dancy” moves even after three classes), then the energy of the music and the group might provide just the motivation to help you succeed.
As far as this being the “only” way to get in shape — that’s just not true. In fact, I would suggest adding resistance training a couple of days per week to get good overall benefits, since Zumba is not as strong in that area. Another consideration with making a class of any kind the basis of your fitness program is scheduling. Can you schedule the class times into your life consistently? If not, consider a workout you can do on your own. The final consideration would be your orthopedic history. If you have any chronic conditions that might be irritated by repetitive weight-bearing exercise that involves some impact, then be careful with Zumba and be sure to sit out any moves that don’t feel good to your body.
There are many different ways to get fit. Sometimes you just have to get out and try a few things until you find your niche. Since your friends are asking, why not go for it? — Heidi
Question: My son is only 12 and he wants to start lifting weights. I think he is too young for weight lifting but he is overweight and I do want to find some form of physical activity for him to do regularly. Your thoughts?
Answer: Your son is not necessarily too young to lift weights. Free weights, machines and body weight exercises are all forms of resistance training, which is another term for weight lifting or strength training. If the resistance training program is set up properly in terms of the right amount of weight, sets and repetitions, along with picking safe movements and a safe mode of resistance, it actually could be very beneficial to your son in terms of his fitness level and his self-confidence. Since he is interested in this type of workout, I wouldn’t discourage it. However, due to his young age it is very important that he get help from a certified fitness professional to make sure he is doing things correctly. For more information, go to www.acsm.org and see the American College of Sports Medicine position statement on youth strength training. — Jay
Question: I am thinking of running a half or maybe even a full Olympic Discovery Marathon in June. Should I have started training sooner or can I still pull it off?
Answer: Yes, you should have started training sooner! And I don’t recommend you attempt the full marathon. However, with three months to train, you could pull off a half marathon, if: 1) You are under 40, in excellent health with no history of orthopedic issues and have done some running without injury in the past; 2) you get help from a trainer or running coach who can give you a good training program starting now; and 3) you promise to listen to your body and not be tempted to over-train. Thirteen miles is a long way to run!
I also recommend you add in some core, flexibility and overall strength training to lessen your chance of injury. Nutrition will also be important! Do your homework, get some help and go for it. See you at the finish line on June 5. — Heidi
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