One of the great frustrations of choosing a home workout over the gym is that the gym offers better facilities than your living room. If you're enrolled in an aerobic stepping class, you'll probably find it's easier to move on the gym floor than it is on your cushy pile carpeting. Carpet can make it a lot harder to do stepping exercises, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on sticking with your routine outside of class hours.
Hard floors ensure that you'll be able to maintain your balance because the surface is even and steady, and won't give more in some areas than others. But carpet can make balancing tricky, particularly when you're rapidly jumping on and off of a platform. If you have old carpet or an old house, the problem could be made even worse by wear and tear on your carpet or even uneven matting underneath the carpet. However, if you're hoping to improve you balance, the additional challenge could be exactly what you need. Just make sure you have no current injuries and that you don't feel pain when doing step aerobics on your carpet.
Step aerobics can jar your spine and cause a hefty impact to your joints. Over time, this can lead to back pain and muscle problems, especially if you have a history of injuries, overdo it or have poor form. The soft surface of the carpet can slightly decrease the impact of step aerobics, but the softness can be deceptive. If you find yourself jumping forcefully on the carpet, you may still feel the impact of the floor underneath, so don't assume that carpet means you can abandon any precautions you take to protect your joints.
Think Health and Safety
When you're working out, you'll want to focus solely on your body and breathing, but carpet might be distracting, particularly if its dirty. If you have allergies or respiratory problems, know that carpet can trap dirt and dander; when coupled with the breathlessness you get from your aerobic routine, you may find yourself having difficulty breathing. Repetitive movements on carpet can also cause rug burn. Although rug burn quickly fades, it can cramp your exercising style for a few days; bad cases of rug burn can be extremely painful and even get infected.
You Have Alternatives
If you're sick of working out on carpet and want to make your home environment more like your exercise class, you don't need to spend a weekend ripping up carpet and replacing it with flooring. A few mats may be all you need. Hard mats can mimic an exercise studio -- though they'll still have slightly more give since they're on top of carpet. You might also consider moving your routine to a hard-floored bathroom or to an even surface outside. Throw down a mat and you could have the perfect exercise surface.
- Spine-Health: Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises
- Step Aerobics; Iris Pahmeiher et al.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.