fusion workouts for arthritis

Go Hybrid for Your Arthritis Workout

Yogalates. Gyrotonics. Piloxing. They may be hard to pronounce, but fusion workouts – which combine moves from two or more disciplines, such as yoga and Pilates (yogalates) or water aerobics and tai chi (ai chi) – are increasingly popular.

“People love fusion fitness because it’s challenging and novel,” says Jessica Matthews, group fitness expert and spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) in San Diego and a fitness trainer who has trained people with arthritis.

But is it safe and worth your time? Fusion workouts can introduce you to other forms of exercise. Plus, “if you enjoy a particular type of exercise but are bored with your current routine, it’s a great way to break through the monotony,” says Matthews.

Fusion fitness also provides an opportunity to cross-train. “You’ll typically use more muscle groups than you would with a single discipline, and that can reduce your risk of injury while boosting your overall fitness levels.”

Carefully monitor your pain during a fitness fusion class, says Sherry Brourman, a physical therapist and yoga instructor in Los Angeles, who regularly works with people who have arthritis. “The moves may feel different than what you’re used to, but don’t confuse ‘different’ with ‘painful,’” she adds.

Observe a class before you sign up, says Matthews. “If your arthritis is severe or you’re having a flare, avoid workouts that involve high-impact moves, such as step aerobics or boxing.”

If You Try a Hybrid Class

Search for an instructor who has experience working with people with arthritis, Matthews adds. In addition to a general fitness certification, the instructor should have experience teaching each form of exercise incorporated in the workout.

Look for a class that includes a form of gentle, flexibility-enhancing exercise, such as Pilates or tai chi. “You’ll improve your range of motion, which can ease arthritis symptoms and make everyday tasks easier,” Matthews says.

Let the instructor know that you’ve never done the workout before, and tell her you have arthritis and may need to modify some moves. “A good, experienced instructor will monitor your progress and make helpful suggestions without being pushy or making you feel singled out,” says Matthews.

Go slowly. “Be mindful of your joints and work toward learning your new workout rather than attempting to do the highest impact you can or trying to keep up with more experienced exercisers,” says Matthews.

Doing a DVD or YouTube video? Look for a workout that includes a beginner skill level or modifications.

Popular Hybrid Workouts

Zumba: aerobics + Latin dance

Ai chi: water aerobics + tai chi

Gyrotonics: incorporates moves from multiple disciplines, including gymnastics, yoga, ballet and tai chi, and is typically done on specially designed equipment

Piloxing: Pilates + boxing

Yogalates: yoga + Pilates

Looking for a reason to stay active? Register for our upcoming Walk to Cure Arthritis 5K, where you can help raise funds for research, resources and a cure. Much more than just a walk event, it’s something even bigger than arthritis itself! Register today!

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