Nowadays, we are bombarded with many “new” trends in health and fitness. These workouts are supposed to be more efficient and better for us, more so than a conventional workout session at your local gym. While there has been much money and research done in sports medicine, the look towards the past for vitality can be a good thing, but also bad.
One of the most standard workout routines in the gym is the deadlift. Purportedly invented by a Frenchmen in the nineteenth century, the deadlift, has been long championed as a total body workout. Given that many of the medical treatments and beliefs prevailing from those days were mainly based on speculation rather than a definitive correlation and the use of imaging equipment, it’s a testament that such a workout is still considered beneficial even by today’s standards. The deadlift as you all know, works out the “core muscles” – the abdominal muscles, quads, hamstrings, shoulders, and back muscles. These muscles are what helps us maintain good posture, and are required for almost every athletic movement out there. Additionally, it has been shown that weight lifting has a positive effect on maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
Another vintage workout that is making headway are barre workouts, or “pure barre” or “barre studios.” If anyone has watched any old Hollywood movies or I Love Lucy episodes, the handrail in a ballet studio serves as the focus of the barre workout routine. Just like any dance recital or ballet practice, a lot of focus is placed on movement geared towards the work out of leg muscles. While warmup routines and other movements are usually done on mats, a bulk of the exercises are done at a slow and steady cadence with the barre. No weights are used, strictly one’s bodyweight – also known as an isometric workout.
So why are so many people doing the latest workout trend? The health benefits? Well, certainly the stretching and elongating of leg muscles, and possibly some strength development in the legs as well. But don’t be so quick to jump on the wagon. Certainly there are important benefits of the isometric workouts, but the barre workout does not provide good cardiovascular exercise. It is estimated by some that one is only utilizing 40-50 percent of the maximum heart rate in these classes. In order to lose weight or to get proper cardio exercise, the American Heart Association recommends maintaining a heart rate in the 50-85 percent range during a workout. Obviously individuals with health conditions need to check with a medical professional to ensure this is safe to do so. Also, it is important for everybody to check with a medical professional prior to engaging in any new workout, as underlying and undiscovered medical conditions can be detrimental to any workout or one’s health.
So what does all this mean? Well, it means you should do a bit of research prior to doing anything. I’m not knocking the barre workouts by any means. It is a good workout, and has health benefits. But it seems like its most effective when combined with other routines, such as running, other cardiovascular activities, and also some form of weight training. Well, that’s my two cents anyhow, until next time.