This blog has been updated December 13, 2019.

The risks of extreme fitness workouts can range from minor injuries to downright frightening medical emergencies. I just finished reading an article on CNN.com about Rhabdomyolysis and a young man who got this potentially life-threatening disorder after his first spin class. He was fit but new to spinning and mentioned in the article that he felt that he needed to “go big or go home” in the class. He worked so hard that his muscles started to release a potentially damaging muscle tissue protein myoglobin into his bloodstream, taxing his kidneys and causing excruciating pain. His thighs swelled up and almost caused another issue called “compartment syndrome”, where the swelling needs to be reduced surgically. He was hospitalized for a week while they flushed the toxins from his kidneys so they would not shut down. Luckily, he was ok in the end and did not have to go on dialysis.

Spinning bikes

Feeling the burn — types of extreme fitness workouts

We live in a culture of extreme sports and badass, warrior-like fitness. Back in the 80’s Jane Fonda exhorted us to “feel the burn” and “no pain, no gain” — slogans which have contributed to seeding a generation that qualifies being fit with having large, hard muscles and participating in activities that are the most extreme of their kind. Gyms have become one-size fits all, stylish destinations. New extreme fitness challenges of all varieties are popping up regularly. For example, there’s the Tough Mudder — an obstacle course featuring a variety of extreme challenges. There’s even one obstacle titled “Electroshock Therapy” that features real electric shocks. Enrolling in Kokoro Camp promises you’ll be trained like a Navy SEAL and working to the point of complete mental and physical fatigue. P90X offers you mind-blowing results in only 90-days from your very own living room (performed without any professional supervision).

Compared to all that, spinning sounds pretty tame. But spinning as a workout trend has reached high levels of popularity and attracts people for its potential to burn 400-600 calories on average in a class. These students, like the author in the CNN story are likely to push harder than their body is able to handle. I’m not surprised at the author’s story, though I have never heard of this rare disorder, but I am disappointed that this man had to turn off his own body’s cues to complete the class. He essentially disassociated from the pain he felt and used external cues (the instructor and/or the pace of the class) to make it through. 

Elaine Economou smiling on the Pilates Cadillac

Enjoying fitness as a lifelong habit

This is exactly the opposite of why I teach fitness and movement and co-founded MOVE Wellness. In the Pilates and Gyrotonic methods and the other systems we teach at MOVE Wellness (including yoga), we first ask people to connect to their breathing and take a minute or two to connect with the sensations of the body or internal cues so they can inform and guide clients during their workouts.  We call these practices mind-body fitness because it is that connection and awareness, which builds with each session, that allows the client to move with integrity, in alignment and connected to the deep support of the core to avoid injury. This maximizes the efficiency of the exercises so people get stronger faster.

The importance of listening to your body

“Burn Calories!” was the mantra of the 80s and 90s, and as a middle aged female with a metabolism that seems to have left the building, I understand. I think this growing culture of extremes is why people who are busy also flock toward cardio-type classes as their bread and butter of fitness, but a well-rounded fitness program (and good diet) are fundamental for optimal health. An informed practice is key to our breathwork, mindfulness, and movement instruction. Do we work hard? Yes. Do we help people build strength in a way that supports their lifestyle and activities? Yes. Should people work hard, sweat and challenge themselves?  Yes. But do this through the deep act of listening to your body and understand it’s unique needs.

Light filtering into a Pilates studio while people work with trainers.

Our mission at MOVE Wellness is to help people live a joyful life in a fit and healthy body. Our vision is a world where fitness is defined by moving your body in ways that bring you joy and is determined by the desire to understand and listen to your body’s cues.

Ready to get going with a plan that’s right for you and your body?

Sign up for an introductory package today, call 734-224-2560, or email us to chat about your options, or stop by the studio to say hello in person.

Emily Douglas has been training at MOVE Wellness Studios since we opened in 2014. She recently returned from an adventure in Utah where she hiked nearly 30 miles at elevation across several national parks in the area! She credits her overall strength and endurance to training at MOVE Wellness Studios before the big trip. Emily was kind enough to share her trip with us below.

Where did you go on vacation?  Southern Utah. I work for a non-profit organization called Best Friends Animal Society. Every year we all travel to Kanab for “All-Staff Week” for meetings, outings and time with the animals at the Sanctuary. Kanab is located in the southeastern most corner of Utah, smack dab in between Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon.

What did you do? After all of my work-related activities wrapped up for the week, I stayed for three extra days to hike and explore in the area for my 40th birthday. Over three days, I hiked nearly 30 miles at elevation across a couple different national parks in the area, and drove close to 1,000 miles. On one day, I spent nearly seven hours hiking around South Coyote Buttes, which is part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The next day, I did the 6-mile round trip hike out to Calf Creek Waterfall. And I hiked the 8-mile Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon on my final day, before doing the 4.5 hour drive back to Las Vegas airport for my flight home.

Emily at the Wave Emily at the Wave

What was your favorite place you visited?  The Wave, an iconic sandstone formation located in Grand Staircase Escalante that is protected by the Bureau of Land Management.  Only 20 people a day are permitted to hike into the area. The hike out to the Wave is an unmarked, open wilderness/desert area at about 5,200 ft elevation. It’s a challenging hike involving multiple types of terrain. You’re scaling up rock formations one minute and trudging through thick sand dunes the next. It was mind-blowing.

What did you do to prepare for your trip?  I increased my workouts significantly and focused on inflammation reduction, which meant everything from herbal infusions and clean eating to stretching and limiting alcohol consumption. I attended Power Pilates with TRX on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoon Mat class with Angela religiously. The core engagement routine we do in both of those classes combined with the leg and back work on the TRX made a huge difference for me in overall strength and endurance. I also took much of what I learned in Nicole’s and Julie’s Shred classes and repurposed those exercises to create my own Tabata workouts.

How did training at MOVE Wellness Studios help your health and wellness during your trip?  My organization actually owns a wellness center in Kanab that I can use for free. So I was able to go in early every morning to the gym and do my own Pilates routines and workouts to start the day off right. I also bought myself a cheap foam roller to keep in my hotel room and did a number of stretching and core routines in my hotel room in the morning and at night that my various MOVE Wellness Studios trainers have taught me.

In the past, coming home from an 8-day trip like this that involved long flights and many hours driving in the car would result in me spending many weeks in and lots of money on physical therapy to get things back on track due to a hip impingement and spinal dysfunction. In fact, I was able to jump right back into my workout routine once I got home and haven’t had any problems since. That in and of itself is a miracle. Happy 40th Birthday to me. 🙂


Need some help getting conditioned for an upcoming trip? Whether you attend group classes or private training sessions, MOVE Wellness Studios’s expert trainers can help you reach your movement goals. Call us today at 734.761.2306 to schedule an introductory private session to discuss your needs and fitness goals.

Break Free from Pelvic Floor Disorders

Did you know that 1 in 3 women suffer from or will develop a pelvic floor disorder during their lifetime?

Pelvic floor disorders are problems related to bladder, bowel and sexual function. They include different types of urine leakage (incontinence) or bladder control problems like going frequently, getting up at night to urinate, or getting strong, uncontrollable urges to urinate. Pelvic floor disorders also include problems related to the bowels such as accidental loss of gas or stool. Finally, a condition known as prolapse, which is a feeling that the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, vagina or rectum) are bulging or falling out, is also a pelvic floor disorder.

The risk for pelvic floor disorders increases with age. While these conditions are often linked to having children, there are other reasons they can develop. There are also many conditions that make pelvic floor disorders worse that can be managed with relative ease. Many women suffer silently from these conditions. They assume that these conditions are a normal part of the aging process. They also assume that because their mother or sister had it, then they are destined to get it too.

Fortunately pelvic floor disorder are not life threatening. They primarily affect a woman’s quality of life. That means that they do not have to be treated right away. Depending on how bothersome the condition is, a watch and wait approach is often acceptable. However, a thorough evaluation is needed first to ensure it is safe to wait.

Once a pelvic floor disorder affects a woman’s quality of life, there are a number of treatment options available. Many of these options are conservative and non-invasive like lifestyle, behavior, or diet changes. Other treatments include medications, physical therapy and surgery in some cases. Each woman is different; therefore each woman’s treatment plan will be different.

Be open with your doctor about your symptoms and ask about treatment options. You can also ask about seeing a specialist and request a referral if needed. There are qualified specialists in your area that are willing to help you break free from pelvic floor disorders.

To learn more about about pelvic health and incontinence, join us for Incontinence Night at MOVE Wellness Studios, on May 4th. Click here for more information.

This article was originally published at www.ihacares.com by Dr. Adam Ziff on October 20, 2014, and was updated on March 30, 2017.

Urinary Incontinence – Are You Among the 1 in 3?

Urinary Incontinence – are you familiar with these words? I am sure you have heard the joke – “laugh until you leak” or seen the commercials for “discrete pads for women”.  Odds are, if you are a woman, then you or someone close to you is dealing with incontinence on a daily basis. Studies have shown that 1 in 3 women suffer from urinary incontinence – which is an uncontrollable loss of urine.  There are two main types of urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence which is when you “leak” when you cough, laugh, sneeze etc, and urge urinary incontinence which is the “gotta go” feeling some women experience and are then unable to hold their urine.  It is also possible to have a little bit of both types of incontinence which is referred to as mixed urinary incontinence. You may have heard from friends or read online that at certain times in your life incontinence is inevitable, like when you are pregnant, if  you have had multiple children, if you are nearing menopause, or if you are a runner. Well, I have great news for you! You are not destined to have “leaky faucets” just because you fall into any of these categories. There are steps you can take to help improve and even resolve incontinence.

Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor

The key to helping to gain your life back from incontinence lies in a few muscles that most people are unaware they have, or unaware of their function…the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that spread across the bottom of your pelvic cavity like a hammock. They have many functions including supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum. They also help to withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen with activities such as coughing and sneezing, and they help to enhance the sexual response. These are the muscles you are targeting when doing kegels. Many women have probably heard of kegels, but did you know that studies have shown that most women are unable to perform a proper kegel contraction without some education? It takes diligence, awareness, and practice to perform an effective pelvic floor contraction or a kegel.

How Pilates & Gyrotonic Targets the Pelvic Floor

At MOVE Wellness Studios in our Pilates and GYROTONIC sessions, the pelvic floor is a target of our connection to the “core” and we cue and train the contraction of these muscles as regular part of our private sessions and classes.  You learn how to do this in your first session and we work to build tone of the pelvic floor and other related muscles.  As small, local stabilizing muscles, it takes a little bit of time and focus to “feel” this area of our body work but quite often, learning to breathe in a way that supports toning the pelvic floor has other benefits such as releasing stress, relieving low back pain and building core strength.

Kegel Exercise to Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

  • Sit on a flat surface like a chair or bench with a rolled up towel or pillow between your knees.
  • Take a few breaths releasing your shoulders and sitting up tall with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Take a breath in to prepare and on your first exhale gently squeeze the towel.  Notice the area of your pelvis that is in contact with the chair.
  • On your second exhale, try to lift the center of your body off the chair, while gently squeezing the towel.  Do not contract  your large gluteus muscles but keep the focus more to the center and keep it very gentle.
  • Hold the contraction for the length of your breath, relax and inhale and do it again.
  • Repeat 10 breaths, twice per day.

Note: this is just a basic introductory exercise and if you have pain or any other symptoms after practicing it, discontinue it and get help from your physical therapist or doctor.

Physical therapy can be a great option for women who are suffering from incontinence that is more severe and truly impacting their quality of life. A pelvic floor physical therapist has special knowledge in the anatomy and function of the pelvic floor and how dysfunction in this area can lead to issues such as incontinence. Your pelvic floor physical therapist will assess your pelvic and lumbar spine alignment, as well as the strength, endurance, and function of your pelvic floor along with related musculature such as your core and gluteal musculature. They will then identify areas of dysfunction to help formulate a treatment plan geared specifically to your needs to help decrease your incontinence and get you back to living your life without the hassles of urinary incontinence.

For more information, join us on May 4th at 5:30PM for Incontinence Night at MOVE Wellness Studios. Click here for more information.

This post was authored by Stephanie Hemker, PT, DPT and Elaine Economou, PMA-CPT

MOVE Wellness Studios Intern Daria Newell is our guest blogger this week and shares some important information on fitness and heart health.

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? You already gave your Valentine lots of love earlier this month, so now it’s time to give your own heart some extra attention. Why? Read on…

Heart disease kills one in four men and women each year. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US and also the leading cause of death worldwide. This is why it’s so important to stay updated on the latest physical activity recommendations for cardiovascular health, and understand how you can incorporate these guidelines into your regular exercise routine.

For overall cardiovascular health, the American Heart Association recommends that adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week, or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week. It is also recommended that adults do muscle–strengthening activities that involve all the major muscle groups at least 2 days per week .

How do MOVE Wellness Studios’s exercise classes tie into these recommendations?

Aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming, biking, or jogging increases your heart rate, makes your heart stronger, and therefore decreases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. If you’d rather get your aerobic workout at the studio, try incorporating our Total Barre, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or Power Pilates classes into your weekly routine.

Pilates, with or without equipment, is an excellent way to strengthen major muscle groups, as well as the Yoga, TRX, and Total Barre classes. GYROTONIC training and GYROKINESIS are other options that increase your strength. Remember – the AHA recommends a minimum of 2 times each week for this type of exercise!

It’s important to note that stress is another factor that may be related to heart disease. Chronic stress that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may damage the artery walls . Any form of exercise can help relieve stress, especially exercise you enjoy. Yoga, in particular, is great for stress relief. If you are experiencing a heavy amount of stress, massage therapy and wellness coaching can help you as well.

At MOVE Wellness Studios, we want to help you live your best life. Take this month to ensure your heart is healthy, one move at a time. Not sure which class is right for you? Schedule a Private Introductory Session and one of our expert trainers will be happy to guide you.

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp
https://www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/stress_management/stress-heart-disease/American American