Happy Throw Back Thursday!
Remember the time I made fun of step aerobics? Well, that came back to bite me in the you know what.
What is Step?
A group aerobics class utilizing an elevated platform. You use the step to imitate walking up and down stairs while following a sequence of choreography. The platform can be raised higher or lower to increase the intensity of the workout.
Step is a high intensity cardiovascular workout with quick choreography sets. The instructor will generally break down the movements into segments and add onto them gradually. The movements are fast requiring you to listen, move, react all while balancing on the platform.
While the primary focus of the workout is the lower body, the upper body can get a good workout too by moving your arms more. This also increases the intensity of the workout.
Some old school Jane Fonda stepping.
Some modern fancy stepping.
Last weekend I went to my first step class in a long time. Maybe high school? My foot injury has forced me to adjust my fitness routine and by the way, I hate change.
If you’re new to TSL, here’s a recap of my injury. In January, I did the Rock n Roll PF Chang’s Phoenix half marathon. My best race ever. Five days later, I was on an elliptical when suddenly felt like a knife had been jabbed in my heel and I couldn’t walk. I tore a tendon in my foot. I wore a boot/brace for ~3 months then graduated physical therapy in May.
Last month my right calf was strained. I had severe leg cramps and finally saw a sports therapist who I’ve been working since. I was a dancer for over a decade and have strong calves from dancing. My calf has likely been compensating for my foot injury and finally had enough.
Now my focus has been to improve balance and strength in my calf and ankle. Balancing on a training ball like this provides an unstable surface which is a good way to increase strength.
After talking to my therapist about my fitness routine, he suggested step. In addition to being a good cardio workout, step aerobics offers these additional benefits:
- Strengthens the lower extremity muscles
- Improves balance
- Imitates functional movements
I was pessimistic that step aerobics would be as good as my other workouts like spin. To my surprise, it was an awesome workout and I know I scored a serious calorie burn. The class was hard. Step is a highly choreographed class which forces you to react quickly to changes in movements and sequences.
For me, those fast movements were challenging. My muscles are not used to working together in those ways. When you do the same fitness over and over again, you lose benefit over time because muscles remember and know what to expect and how to react. Muscles don’t strengthen when you don’t surprise them from time to time.
Another learning from this experience is the importance of balance in strength training. When we talk balance, our focus is usually on stress reduction, getting enough sleep or overall mental health. My injury has taught me that balance is much more than that. Without physical balance, muscles become unbalanced, strength is lost decreasing mobility and increasing the risk for injury.
I hope my lessons help you find your balance.
Are you a step fan? When was the last time you did a step class? Do you have balance in your strength training?
Linking up with Amanada @ Running with Spoons
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