Friday, May 11, 2012

Is One Workout Enough?

So this week I haven’t covered the most cerebral topics. Monday was Kelly, who loves Jelly Bellys, and her diet book, Wednesday highlighted nut milk delivery, which I’m pretty sure only happens in New York and today’s workout-related topic isn't going to vastly change your life. I promise to comment on the latest obesity predictions next week; I take that back, I don’t because I like these fun topics.

The NYT ran a story on a current NYC fitness trend. I can’t imagine why but six separate people emailed or tweeted me the link with a version of “maybe you should blog about this.” The “this” is the trend among women, the article stated it is a female phenomenon so I’m not stereotyping, to scurry from one intense workout class to another. Whether it’s barre, boot camp, spinning or running for many women one workout isn’t enough. The Times distinguished “this is different than the elliptical and then weights.” While that sounds somewhat elitist these exercise classes are each 45 to 60 minutes long and intense.

I consulted two of my favorite fitness professionals for their two cents on this trend. Kate Albarelli is the creator of the brutal, yet beneficial, barre class Figure 4 and Riley Nickols is a running/triathlete coach and owner of Mind Body Endurance. It did occur to me that this leaves us taking advice from a ballerina (you know their work ethic) and a 5-time ironman (which is technically an octuple workout). They both said that they many of their students or clients do double workouts but not every day. At Foodtrainers, if a client has been doing the same daily workout for years I will suggest one weekly “doubleheader” as we call it. This wouldn’t be something for someone new to exercise. Riley, in exercise-physiology speak, said “I do believe that adding in a double workout to your schedule can be a helpful way to make fitness gains and break through a "plateau".  The body is amazing at adapting to the stress you place upon it, so switching things up can have physiological and psychological benefits.”

There is also a limit and more exercise is not always best. I asked about the prevalence of the “triple threat” and Kate explained I have seen 3 classes for sure, however at that point, I start to wonder why. Not for everyone, but at a certain point, it becomes less about fitness and more about obsession and that can be dangerous.” It also becomes competitive, the article mentioned a woman who said “you see other people doing it” and “it’s a type A New York thing.”  I had a client come in who said “since when is one workout not enough?” And Riley clarified "I would suggest double workouts only on a few conditions for the recreational exerciser:  

  1. The individual has the availability in their schedule (that does not take away from family/work responsibilities) and the resources to devote to double workouts and 
  2. The individual views the double workouts as being enjoyable rather than an obligation.” We all know type A can be a nice way of saying neurotic.
I’ll often do a run before Figure 4 or yoga. It’s hard to go all out, ether I’ll do a quick run between dropping my children at school and class or I’ll do a good run and tack on a barre class as an extra. You only have so much gas in the tank and I never have as much to put into Figure 4 when I’ve pre-fatigued by legs. Kate concurred “If the student is really giving it all they have with one Figure 4, there is no need to do another right after.” It may come down to a question of quantity versus quality. And Riley mentioned the concept of periodizing workouts that he uses with his athletes “similarly to triathletes/runners, recreational exercises can also benefit from periodizing their workouts incorporating periods of higher training volume (e.g., double workouts) but also building in periods of rest and/or lower volume training."  

Many of my friends and colleagues have their favorite doubles. Sam, from Mom at the Barre a great fitness blog mentioned she does a Physique57/Refine Method double and also likes FlywheelSports/Physique. In her email about this she added “I met your friend Shari at As 1effect today, she was wearing a Foodtrainers t-shirt.” It’s a funny fitness world in NYC but nothing made me laugh more than this statement. A few friends were emailing about the workout article while trying to arrange meeting for a lunch or a workout. Everyone has busy schedules with dental visits and meetings and one friend said “I was thinking 8:30 Soul Cycle and 9:30 Figure 4 this Tuesday...because I have 11:30 acupuncture and 1:00 physical therapy.  Holy cow, I take a lot of maintenance!
So help me here, is this a NYC thing only? Do you do doubleheader workouts? How much do you think is too much? Any men want to confess to  double?

34 comments:

  1. Gina (Candid RD)May 11, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    I gotta say, when I read this article I was shocked!!  I mean, it's hard enough for me, and most of my clients, to fit in ONE workout (I make it a priority, so I Always manage to fit it in, but still...).  I think 2-3 workouts a day is overkill, and I don't know if it's just a NYC thing.  I have heard some clients tell me they workout one time for 2.5 hours, which may as well be two workouts! Yikes.  I just don't get it.  But, to each their own!

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  2. Double workouts have a place for me occasionally, as I'm training for a sprint triathlon. Good point on enjoyability, and honoring your body and the process of training you're at and working towards.

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  3. I hear you Gina but as "overkill" as it sounds and I see that it's commonplace here. Kate said at any given class I think 20-30% are doing doubles. Maybe easier when instructor leads you through..

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  4. Thanks for commenting Rochelle and congrats on your training. Chances are you have a schedule and bricks planned out with "push" days and more mellow ones. It's that "honoring your body" that we all need to do. Well said.

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  5. Thanks for commenting on this article? It made me raise an eyebrow for sure. I think if I had a specific fitness goal or was training for something or had fewer days of the week to work out, I could see doubling up once in a while. Honestly, though, I'd rather give my muscles a chance to recover from the cardio-and-weights than head right off to a class. If I take a long walk on the same day as going to yoga, that's about as close as it gets to a double-header for me. 

    As a New Yorker, I can't say whether this is an NYC-specific trend, but I do think some of the women profiled in the article seemed a little obsessive. Not a locker room I want to hang out in. 

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  6. Whoops-that question mark was a typo. My coffee hasn't kicked in yet : )

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  7. The only way I would do a double workout is if I did my own workout, then later in the day, my second "workout" was playing soccer or another sport with my kids. Where do these people find the time??? Maybe, I'd do it if I were retired and my kids were out of the house....but, then again, probably not. I've had 2 many sports "overuse" injuries in my life, so if I want to keep working out on a regular basis, I need to keep things in balance!

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  8. Um Jess you mean the one who spends her whole social budget on her workouts (I will not say the next comment that came to mind but...) or worries she will not find a partner who will be ok with her workout schedule? I see what you're saying. The walk and then yoga sounds good to me.

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  9. Injuries are a good reason not to overdo it and you can only do so many doubles and triples without something breaking down and then there will be zero workouts. As for "who has the time" that's one I may disagree with. I have clients who don't work out say "who has the time?" I am sure people who don't blog can say "who has the time to blog or read other blogs?" And while 2+ hours a day is tremendous, 2 hours 1/week is probably time a lot of people could find if that appealed to them.

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  10. I think this is definitely a NYC thing (and probably in other places where there are people with the time, money, and to a certain extent social pressure). I think this type of doubling up is different from doubling while training for a tri or another similar event. I heartily second Rochelle's "honor your body" comment. These women are not doing that.

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  11. And yet it depends on how often the double is or how you schedule it. Big difference 2 workouts a day 6 days a week than doubling up once or twice a week.

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  12. So glad you posted about this (as I was someone who tweeted at you!)

    We talked about this in Figure 4 Tuesday night and most of the women in the class rolled their eyes. It's one thing to do a double header of yoga&barre or run&yoga/barre but to have several separate memberships seemed excessive (and expensive!)

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  13. To be honest, this article made me feel bad about myself.  After years of dreading working out and hating exercise, I've finally convinced myself that I like it.  I was so proud of of working out 5-6 times a week, and then I read this.  Twice a day?  Three times a day?  Made this beginner feel a little defeated.  Then I read the quote from the woman who was concerned that dating/a partner couldn't fit into her workout schedule, and I felt bad for her.  

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  14. Oh and now I feel bad that you feel bad. The truth is, when new to exercise your 5 days is doing more for you (in terms of showing your body something different) than for some women who have worked out for 20 years. Did that make you feel better or worse? And though I focused on doubles, a great piece by Gretchen Reynolds "the first 20 minutes" based on her book shows that for health we don't need huge amounts of exercise. We don't want to be sedentary or obsessive, anywhere in between is great. Go hug your husband and be happy you have health and balance in your life.

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  15. I think we all have the line that seems "too much". For some it's time, for others money or injuries etc. As long as you're honoring your personal situation and criteria I think we're ok. Keep the post ideas coming Einat, love it.

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  16. I sometimes do two workouts a day. Usually it's cardio early in the morning and strength training or yoga in the evening. However, I always make sure the workouts are at least 8-10 hours apart.

    There's no way that people should be going from one workout to another so soon after each other. Their cortisol levels are going to be shot completely out of whack and there's a good chance that these long double (or triple!) workouts can easily lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, and muscle loss. At some point, you're actually doing more damage than good.

    Short, intense exercise sessions are always best...whether you're doing a class, HITT training, lifting weights, or anything.

    But hey, this is New York. We're crazy like that.

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  17. We are crazy MD (maybe not you of course). Some of it is scheduling too, twice a day or morning and night for some can be harder than 6-8 before work etc.As for cortisol and insulin it depends what the "double" is. Something stretching can feel really nice after running or spinning or sometimes 2 cardio classes can be much like a runner does a long weekend run. There just has to be a strategy involved as it sounds there is with your workouts. Thanks for stopping by.

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  18. I'm not sure it's a "NY Thing" or if NY just lends itself to this phenomenon because of the number of women with the means and the time, combined with the wide variety of classes on the market (which appeared when the demand for botique fitness studios boomed).  

    I confess I was doing 3 back to back at Exhale and I had to stop and ask why.  I realized that no single class there was truly challenging my body the way it needs to be challenged so I was not seeing results.  I am also neurotic.  NOT type A.  Just neurotic.  Since switching to Refine I don't do doubles any more.  One class is enough.  In fact, it would be obscene to do a double with Refine.  I have run to and from class before, though.  Which I admit is obsessive but I honestly LOVE exercise and I had the time, so I fit the criteria stated in the article :)

    You really need to try Refine!  It's DA BOMB DIGGITY.  

    PS. YAY I CAN COMMENT AGAIN!  Nice new set-up here. 

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  19.  Let me correct myself -- the NYT article made me feel bad, not your blog post.  You, Lauren, always make me feel supported.  I bought the First 20 Minutes book and hope to read it this weekend.  Yay for balance!

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  20. Yay Cameo is back, missed your feedback. There are a lot of options here. As for the # of workouts do you think it's about finding what's tough or what really works for you and is therefore satisfying. For example, though I dabble I never feel in running days that I haven't worked my body. I will Refine this summer it's on my list. Maybe we'll run there together, ha.

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  21. MD I replied to you, now sure where it went. And see for me morning and night and 2 showers and 2 sets of clothes (logistics) sounds harder than a doubleheader. As for cortisol and insulin it matters what the double is. In some ways it's no different from a runner doing a long run on the weekends. However, this is the exception and not the norm. And I agree, we're crazy in so many ways here, makes it fun.

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  22. I fit in my one workout a day and that's that. It's a minimum of an hour and I feel like that's enough seeing as I'm on the move all day long. But if, on a particular day at work, I feel like I was sitting too long I might do a walk before dinner. 

    Would love your thoughts on the Time magazine cover...I thought for sure that would be your topic today!!

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  23. are you referring to the "mom enough" breastfeeding article? Am I a parenting expert? Let me know if I missed something, always love a good topic.

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  24. Always insightful reading everyone's comments. I also want to hear your thoughts on the Time magazine article!

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  25. If I was working out that much, I would hope to be lighter and tighter than the woman pictured in that article.  Just sayin.....

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  26. about co-sleeping, never leaving your kids and quitting your job to attachment parent? Well how can I do that and work out twice? I lean much more Tiger mother than Sears.

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  27. I refrained from that but it's almost better they used her because it sends the message you can work out 27 times a week and...more dangerous if they used a skinnymini.

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  28. At first I thought this was a crazy notion, but then I wondered if I am doing doubles when I go for a run on Saturday morning and then meet other friends for a long walk, doing as much as 12 miles before lunchtime. As my running miles increased, I stopped the walking, but I think I'm only saying that to "defend" myself because still? that seems crazy. And every day? Do these people work for a living? 

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  29. The only time I fit two workouts in is when I have a break from teaching and have more time. I may do a weights workout in the morning and then a long hike in the afternoon, or a barre class and then swimming. The reason for two workouts is that I enjoy working out and being active, and I love using "extra" time for workouts. It's as much for my mind as for my body.

    However, I don't think double workouts would be good for me in the long run. As I am getting older, I really have to listen to my body and make sure I don't "overuse" certain parts of my body. I have a weak ankle (on which I had surgery and which I re-injured many times over the years) and too much cardio, for example, just doesn't work.

    There was a time in my life when I had to go to the gym every day, regardless of whether I was sick or whatever else was going on in my life. It was not healthy. I think it's a good idea to assess our workouts once in a while to look at why we do what we do. I know that the last few weeks were extremely busy for me, and I'm looking forward to a few double workout days soon... :)

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  30. Wise Andrea, I love both the reason you may do more and the idea of assessing your workouts and asking yourself what the motivation is. I love the days I give myself off because I feel tired or have a lot of work to do. I feel I come back feeling better. And I have a bum ankle too.

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  31. some do work, many though do not

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  32. Living near Tampa, FL I see MANY woman doing double or triple ... so definitely not just a NY thing. For me, I love to run - I don't feel like I get the release from other classes that I do from running, so I like to fit in 3 miles before I take a class - be it spin, boot camp, pilates, abs, etc. I have been a stay at home mom for the past 7 years and I honestly feel more equipped to tackle WHATEVER the day may have in store for me when I take those 2 hours each morning for myself. I generally work out at least 6 days a week.

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  33. If I had a job outside of my home, I KNOW I would not work out nearly as much as I do now.  A lot of these people probably DO NOT work :)

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  34. One work out a day people - please! An hour to an hour and a 1/2 a day, perfct. 

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