What to do in the gym?

I've recently started aqua fit classes at my local leisure centre which I hope will help with flexibility in my severely arthritic knees, the membership fee includes gym use, but I'm not sure what exercises would be suitable for me, I don't want to put extra pressure on my knees, I struggle walking so the treadmills out of the question, not sure about what other exercises are suitable, any suggestions?


  • Moira
    Moira Member Posts: 82


    Water Workout is great. We had a tutor who was an ex-orthopaedic nurse so gave alternative moves for those of us with arthritic problems. Any bouncing on your knees is a no-no.

    Before my knees were so bad and I had my artificial knee I used to use a home static bike - listening to the Archers or reading a book on the handlebars, while I did my 10 miles a day. However it just got too much on the joints, so I gave up the bike.

    Be careful with gyms. There are lots of young fitness instructors who just don't understand arthritic patients. If you have one who is trained in working with those with arthritis that will give you a great help.

    Why not try physio exercises? I do the exercises my GP surgery physio gave me each day. Keeps me moving. Swimming is also great - although I don't do breast stroke with an artificial knee.

    On the "Versus Arthritis" website there are exercise videos. Leon's classes were brilliant (although I can't kneel down) I also found the Tai-Chi video helpful. Tai Chi is brilliant if you have arthritis. Maybe they have classes at your gym. Some gyms do stretch classes for older folks and they can be ideal. Always tell any instructor of your problems before you start any class.

    Even although I used to do dance (contemporary/ballet) the dance teacher video on "Versus Arthritis" I now find impossible. But the video or a simple movement/dance class designed for less mobile may suit you. I still do my stretches and some of my barre work as part of my regime.

    Good luck with whatever you do. Keep moving but within your limitations.

  • frogmorton
    frogmorton Member Posts: 29,208
    edited 26. Sep 2021, 07:05

    He doesn't say what he does but it seems to work for him.

    Exercise bike maybe?? you can always check with your own GP if that would be ok before starting @Yorkslass if in doubt. Shouldn't be any problem doing upper body and stomach exercises. They will be very useful to support you post surgery if you are having it in future.

    Take care

  • Faviola
    Faviola Member Posts: 2

    I would stick to workouts in the pool. You do not want to stress your joints out or muscles if you’re inflamed. Be kind to your body and just stick to movement in the pool :) for ex. Walk in the shallow end. Fwd, backwards and sideways to increase mobility and improve circulation :)

  • wazz42
    wazz42 Member Posts: 233
    edited 28. Sep 2021, 14:21

    This may sound radical but when I went to the gym I mainly used the treadmill. I used the rails to get my posture to the best I can be and then walking slowly on a level surface at a steady pace is great and so much better for us as well as easier than walking around the shop or on pavements.

    I did ask for a trainer who was experienced in limited movement and mobility and was helped well. I also used the recumbant bike, it didn't need as much bend as the normal ones.

    I only did 10 minutes which was just right for me


  • lizmo
    lizmo Member Posts: 4

    Hi Yorkslass,

    I'm waiting on getting both knees replaced and have arthritis in my shoulders, Greater Tronchateric Pain Syndrome from being hypermobile, bursitis in my elbows..... I'm a physical wreck!!! At 54.

    I never thought I'd be able to do much exercise other than pilates and aqua classes, but I've been proved wrong. My orthopaedic surgeon told me to get as fit as possible before surgery and suggested I try spin classes in the gym as well as the stationary bike and leg machine weights. My physio gave me some advice on weights to do, and said to do the bike on a low level and build endurance before adding levels.

    Before I had problems with my hips I was doing spin classes, but staying seated throughout as I found my knees screamed and sometimes locked if I did the standing exercises. But now it's just too much for my hips, so I do other classes instead.

    I'm really lucky to have a fantastic class coordinator who comes up with modifications to enable me to do quite a lot of classes, and tells the other instructors how to make those mods. So I do Bodypump weights classes and do something else instead of lunges and use very light weights for joints that hurt and heavier ones for chest and arms (while everyone else is loading up for legs I'm doing those with bodyweight or a plate rather than a bar!) I also do cardio classes - I can step from side to side (gently, v low impact) but can't go forwards and back and obviously can't run or jump. So I do a lot of upper body instead. If people are running on the spot I'm jabbing or doing uppercuts. If they are doing burpees I'm doing squat reaches, if they are doing mountain climbers I'll do box press ups (would love to be able to do real ones but I'm just not fit enough!). You have to get over the initial embarrassment of doing things differently from everyone else, but I turn up on my crutches and people who don't know me look at me sceptically but usually look at me very differently on the way out. And instructors tell me there are usually people behind me copying my moves (I always stand at the front corner so I don't have to see anyone else doing it the right way!)

    I also find reformer pilates really helpful to build strength and improve mobility, and again I often need modifications - but few gyms have reformers. Mat pilates is really good, and almost all pilates instructors will give you options if something hurts. My back was awful until I started doing pilates.

    And wading in the pool can really help too. I can't walk more than about 20 metres on dry land, but can do a kilometre or more going up and down the pool.

    I'd also recommend doing a gentle legs programme in the gym with the weights/resistance machines, starting with really light weights and building up slowly. I can't manage the treadmill but on good days I do 10-20 minutes on the cross trainer which I find more supportive of my knees, and if my legs hurt I can use my upper body to compensate!

    Don't give up on exercise. I never thought any of this was possible but it makes a huge difference. I'm still on crutches, I still need both knees replaced, but I'm getting so much fitter, feel better and know I'll be going into surgery in much better shape to recover. I know I'm lucky to have so much support at the gym, so I hope you find it too. It really is a game changer.