Exercise classes can be a great solution to your work out woes – they often combine some cardio and strength training components all in one hour. Plus, they’re one hour! If you find the right class and the right instructor, an hour of exercise can fly by with nary a glance at the clock.
If your memories of group fitness are a haze of lycra one-pieces and Bee Gees numbers, allow me to re-introduce you. The world has changed since the days of jazzercise and there are tons of great classes out there. Most of them fall into the following types:
step aerobics: moderate to
high intensity movements on, over and around an adjustable step; usually
involves some jumping and may not be suitable for those with joint
conditions; set to music with a quick pace that burns 300-600
calories/hour, depending on intensity.
high-low aerobics: high
impact moves are those in which both feet are simultaneously off the
floor; low impact moves are those in which one foot stays on the floor at
all times - put them together with a soundtrack straight from Much More
Retro and you’ve got traditional aerobics. 300-500 calories/hour
(higher impact = higher caloric burn).
abs/core: usually 15-30
minutes, these classes are crammed with sit ups, crunches, planks and
other moves often borrowed from traditional yoga and pilates disciplines;
set to music and faster than regular strength training to burn around 150
yoga: adapted from the
traditional religious & meditative rituals of India, modern “yoga”
classes are full-body strengthening & stretching sessions that build
focus, balance, endurance and coordination without impacting joints.
The most common types, ashtanga & hatha, burn 300-500 calories per
hour but do not offer the same cardiovascular benefits as more intense
adaptation, “pilates” classes are variations on the classic pilates dance
training method; focus is on the core - abs, back, and hips - with high
reps to build endurance and discipline; while not a cardiovascular
workout, pilates burns 250-450 calories/hour.
kickboxing: yet another adaptation, aerobic kickboxing mixes martial arts with conditioning exercises like push ups and jumping jacks at a quick pace set to music; tones most muscles of the body and works the cardiovascular system for 400-600 calories/hour. May not be suitable for those with joint problems.
pump/strength: basic weightlifting
moves like chest presses, squats, lunges, and rows are set to music;
weights are very light and reps are extreme - approximately 50-100 reps
per body part - to build muscular & cardiovascular endurance.
Burns 300-500 calories/hour.
spinning: one of the
newest styles, spinning is just cycling set to music and usually involving
various speed and resistance intervals to burn more calories than
traditional cycling; performed on a “spin” bike at a very high intensity
that burns 500-700 calories/hour.
hip hop: aerobic dance
classes, these are the jazzercise of the new millenium. Aerobic
dance builds coordination and endurance, sometimes with high-impact
movements or complicated footwork that may frustrate some
exercisers. Burns 300-500 calories/hour.
Whichever you choose, fitness classes can be a great way to build longer cardio sessions into your exercise program. The key, as with anything, is moderation. Five spinning classes a week will not only become boring and easy (translation: you burn fewer calories as you get used to doing the same workout over and over), but it may even cause what we call “overuse injuries” that cause joint and muscle pain or even keep you from workout out altogether. Mix up the classes and don’t forget to add traditional strength training at least twice weekly.
Jazz hands, everybody…
Dara Duff-Bergeron is a veteran fitness trainer and a mommy of one with one on the way. After a decade of fitness training, consulting and writing, Dara now combines her exceptional experience and down-to-earth philosophy in Fit Family personal training and Belly Bootcamp pre-and post-natal fitness. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.