Wearing Red ShoesClasses like Heel Hop, Stiletto Fitness and Stiletto Strength have been popping up at fitness centers across the country. Proponents like back up dancer and inventor of Heel Hop, Kamilah (she uses only one name), swear by the classes. Podiatrists, on the other hand, are sounding the alarm. Are high heel workouts the path to killer legs or are they killing your legs and feet? Here is what you need to know.

High heel workouts

Certified fitness instructor and back up dancer, Kamilah has developed a stiletto workout called Heel Hop. The workout is designed so that women can more comfortably wear high heels. Kamilah says her trademarked workout can also help you boost confidence, shed pounds and inches, and get a longer, leaner lower body. Other benefits include an aerobic workout, plus you get your sexy back.

Classes like Heel Hop and Stiletto Strength work the calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads. These are the muscles high heels engage. Strengthening them in class is thought to improve posture and balance.

Don’t worry if you’re new to Stiletto Fitness classes. Moves can be modified, and in most classes participants start with steps that are designed to build strength and confidence once you strap on the pumps. You can expect Pilates and barre like routines as well as some strutting, squats, lunges on your toes, and even a little dropping it like it’s hot. Classes last about 50 minutes and work up a sweat.

High heel exercise classes are popular because they are a fun and sexy way to get in shape. Even Dr. Oz has featured a segment on his show about workouts that have women ditching sneakers and donning heals. Still, some podiatrists are concerned.

Wear heels in moderation

Legs of ballet dancer girlFrequent wearing of high heels has been associated with increased risk of everything from falls to ingrown toenails, bunions, damage to leg tendons and osteoarthritis of the knees. Stiletto strength advocates insist their workout moves minimize these risks and offer cardiovascular benefits to boot. Again, doctors aren’t as convinced. If you choose the high heel workout route be sure to balance your routine with other activities that place your feet in a more natural position. If you are also wearing heels to work take them off periodically throughout the day. For example, drive and walk to your car or the train in flat shoes.

If hopping into high heels gets you off the couch and working up a sweat, go for it. Anything that boosts heart health and helps you build muscle can’t be all bad. Just be careful, go at your own pace and enjoy getting your sexy back.