When Jennifer Love Hewitt broke her wrist in a boxing class, she took to the Twittersphere to spread the word. Ouch.
It just shows: Although group fitness can be a great way to get exercise and stick to a weight-loss plan, classes aren't all super-fun sweat sessions—sometimes, they involve blood and tears, too. (Not sure if you should check out your gym's group schedule? Learn why gym classes work so well.)
Whether you're a bad-ass boxer like Hewitt or swear by your morning spin class, check out these tips from the fitness industry's top instructors for how to get fit without getting hurt:
The Class: Speed and Heavy Bag Boxing
Common Injuries: Sprains and strains in the wrists (a la Jennifer Love Hewitt)
How It Happens: Not wearing proper protective gear, using poor punch technique
Prevention Tip: Wrap 'em up, and throw a legit punch. Properly wrapping your wrists and hands before class will help support your bones and tendons and prevent injury, says Ray Wallace, NASM, Chief Fitness Strategist of Pedal NYC.
When applying wraps, make sure your wrist is totally straight. Start by placing the loop around your thumb. Roll the wrap around your wrist three times, then wrap the fabric around the palm of your hand. Next wrap in between each of your fingers, starting with the pinkie. Twist the wrap directly below the thumb and loop back up through each finger. Wrap the left over fabric across your knuckles, and around your wrist. Attach the Velcro to secure the hand wrap.
Learning how to correctly throw a punch can also keep you safe, says Wallace. When throwing a punch keep your palm facing down, fists tight, and be sure at least four fingers make contact with the bag. This will alleviate pressure on your wrists.
(Find the best workout for your body by evaluating your fitness level first—take this DIY fitness assessment.)
The Class: Cycling
Common Injury: Knee pain
How It Happens: Setting the bike up incorrectly
Prevention Tip: Get to class early. This will ensure you have enough time to get situated on the bike.
Start by adjusting your seat. Move it forwards and backwards until you can put your front knee directly over the pedal axle when sitting, says Wallace.
Then adjust the seat to the right height. Place your feet on the pedals and rotate them until one leg reaches the bottom on the pedal stroke—your leg should have a 30-degree bend in the knee. Next, adjust the handlebars so you can comfortably place your hands on the bars with a slight bend in your elbows.
Bonus: Arriving early will also guarantee that you catch the warm up, which prevents injury by prepping your body for the demands of the class, says Wallace.