Fusion Workouts: Effective for Arthritis Patients?

Visit any gym and you'll no doubt notice at least a few classes that combine two different disciplines. For instance, yogalates is a popular fusion of yoga and Pilates, while cardio-barre sessions incorporate both a cardio workout and ballet barre moves. Aside from being trendy and allowing people to engage different muscles, do these hybrid workouts offer anything for the arthritis patient? And are there particular things people with arthritis should avoid when considering these classes?

Hybrid workouts evolved to allow people to challenge themselves in different ways during a single exercise session. In that sense, hybrid workouts are just as good for arthritis patients as for others. "If someone is engaged with the program and likes the variety, her compliance will probably be greater," maintains Chuck Wolf, an exercise physiologist and the owner/director of Human Motion Associates in Orlando. "Exercise is very important for people with arthritis, but [they] tend to work within one plane of motion." This can lead to overuse injuries. Trying different moves helps people develop better muscle tone and strength, which leads to greater joint stability in the long run.

Wolf suggests that arthritis patients interested in trying a fusion workout speak to the instructor beforehand. A competent instructor will understand the mechanics of the exercises involved and can make sure an exerciser with arthritis is not overdoing it. A good warm-up is critical, he says. "A controlled, dynamic warmup allows the soft tissues around the joint to become more pliable." This increased mobility allows movement to occur much more easily. The instructor should be aware of each individual client's physical limitations and not push him past the point of pain.

Besides trying fusion workouts, arthritis patients may also want to consider workouts that have been adapted for less stress on the body. For example, running outside on pavement may not be an option for someone with arthritis in the knees, but running or walking in a pool may be perfect. The water provides buoyancy and allows for increased range of motion. Cycling outside may be difficult, but indoor cycling classes, also known as spinning, are very popular and allow you to go at your own pace. A few cutting-edge facilities are even offering hydrospin classes, allowing exercisers to cycle in the pool. Speak to your fitness instructors or an exercise physiologist at a local fitness facility to find the best, most effective fusion workouts for your body.



Marc Bloom Running


Arthritis Foundation