Figuring Out Fitness Classes: Find the fitness class that will help you meet your goals. Remember to consult your doctor before starting any diet and exercise plan.
If you’ve started to get bored with your usual routine at the gym and need some variation in your cardio routine, a great way to change things up is to go to a fitness class. Fitness classes can help you get motivated, and, by letting you incorporate some new components into your routine, they can prevent your body from adapting to the same old routine, which can limit your progress.
A fitness class is a great place to socialize with others and develop a support network. Finally, a fitness class is a place to have fun by enjoying the music while participating in a high-energy class.
Before you decide which class you want to participate in, you’ll need to determine your goals at the gym. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, different classes may be more beneficial. So choose the class that suits you best.
Key Tips to Figuring Out Fitness Classes
When participating in a fitness class, you should be aware of some of the key tips for evaluating an effective instructor:
- They should introduce themselves and let you know their qualifications.
- They should ask about any injuries and try to provide alternative moves for those who can’t perform specific moves due to injury or pregnancy.
- They should always begin classes with a warm-up and end with a cool-down and stretching component.
- They should be energetic and motivate you to participate.
Train at the Right Intensity when Figuring Out Fitness Classes
When participating in any form of aerobic activity, you want to ensure that you’re within the target heart rate for your age. You can make sure you’re in your fat-burning zone by wearing a heart-rate monitor during your cardio sessions. Use the following formula to calculate 50 to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate (for optimal fat burning): Subtract your age from 220. Multiply the remainder by 0.5 for the lower end of your target zone, and multiply it by 0.7 for the high end of your target zone. You can also easily determine your target heart rate by using our target heart rate calculator.
Deciphering Some of the Most Popular Fitness Classes
These tips will help when figuring out fitness classes.
This class is performed on exercise bikes that are usually arranged in a circle. The instructor will push you through the workout, usually simulating a rugged terrain and making your bike ride an imaginary adventure. This imagery is used to help motivate and push you through your ride.
Pros: These classes can be very intense and challenging. Spinning classes are fun and energetic, and because they force you to use larger muscle groups, they are a great addition to your fitness plan. Ultimately, you determine the intensity of the class by how much effort and resistance you put into it. These classes are conducted in a group session, which can be a huge motivational factor for someone who is accustomed to a solo cardio routine.
Cons: Spinning classes are generally not for beginners. At first, you may find that your legs and glutes are really sore the day after a class.
Participants in step aerobic classes use low platforms to perform various routines called out by the instructor. They are low-impact, high-intensity classes, and they provide variety for those used to the typical aerobics class. You can increase intensity by adding higher steps or by taking more advanced classes that add some variation to your routine.
Pros: Step classes have been proven to help increase cardiovascular fitness. They are also fun classes that allow participants to enjoy cardio exercise, and they promote a community feeling.
Cons: For those who are not dance-inclined, some of the routines may be complicated to follow, which may compromise the amount of aerobic benefit derived from the class. There are also some safety concerns associated with step classes, such as increased potential for foot problems and a larger chance of injury with faster tempo music.
Water aerobics involve performing typical aerobic movements and running or jogging under water.
Pros: These classes involve a low risk of injury, and are ideal for all fitness levels. Water supports the joints, allowing you to jump and run without the jarring impact that you would experience on dry land. Most classes are performed in the shallow end of a pool, so you don’t have to be a great swimmer to participate. You’ll also work at an intensity that is most suitable to your needs. Water aerobics are great for all ages and allow you to exercise in a cool environment so you won’t get overheated.
Cons: Water aerobic classes aren’t offered at every gym and can’t be performed just anywhere. If you don’t put in enough effort or don’t have a motivating teacher, you won’t get much out of the workout. If you’re an advanced exerciser who is trying to build muscle or increase your cardio, you may want to choose another class. Lastly, although these classes offer natural resistance, they don’t significantly help increase bone conditioning.
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Body Sculpting or Body Firm
In these cardio classes, participants use light hand-held weights or load specialized barbells with their desired weight to perform a choreographed combination of exercises set to music.
Pros: These classes are a good way to learn some new exercises and proper technique (when taught by a qualified instructor), and they provide a full-body workout.
Cons: Although these classes can add variety to the cardio component of your program, they should not be a substitute for weight training, as they don’t require the intensity normally used in a weight-training routine.
Yoga/Pilates/Mind and Body
Yoga or pilates-style classes take you through a series of movements that incorporate specific breathing and body-strengthening exercises. There are different forms of classes offered. Do research before choosing one in order to ensure it meets your needs.
Pros: These types of classes are an excellent way to help you relax, get in touch with yourself, and deal with stress. They can also help to provide flexibility, which is essential, especially if you’ve been doing a lot of weight training.
Cons: Although there has been some talk that these classes can help you lose weight, they will not bring about significant weight loss on their own. Most forms don’t increase calorie burning or increase lean muscle mass significantly. If you have any back or knee problems, these types of classes aggravate these injuries. Ensure that you speak to the instructor beforehand for variations of each exercise so you don’t risk injury.
Dance (Salsa, Hip-Hop, Funk, Country Line Dancing, Strip Aerobics)
Dance classes, no matter what type you choose, are a fun and exciting way to increase your overall cardiovascular fitness.
Pros: If you’re used to using the bike, stair climber, or treadmill for cardio, these classes are a great alternative, and they’re anything but boring. These classes use invigorating music to keep you motivated throughout the class.
Cons: If you don’t get the routine right away, these classes can prove to be quite challenging. Beginners may derive little cardio benefits, as they’ll spend more time watching the instructor than participating in the class. Over time, your body may start to adapt to these classes, so you may need to add some variety to continue your progress.
Boxercise or Cardio Kickboxing
These classes were incredibly popular a few years ago. They provide a high-impact cardiovascular workout that blends elements of boxing, martial arts, and traditional aerobics into an exercise routine. According to a study conducted by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), cardio kickboxing burns an average of 350 to 450 calories per hour. See? Figuring out fitness classes isn’t too hard, why not try out one of these classes?
Pros: Kickboxing classes are a great stress reliever. They’re a fun way to improve or maintain your cardio fitness. They can also help to improve your coordination and balance.
Cons: With incorrect form, kickboxing may lead to injuries. Some classes may not give you enough of a cardio workout to meet your needs, as you may spend some time listening to the instructor or figuring out movements.
A Final Note
Enjoy participating in select classes to add some variety to your workout program while figuring out fitness classes. Just remember to not let them take over your training plan. To maximize your chances of reaching your fitness goals, it’s important that your exercise schedule includes a weight-training component too. Most gyms have a schedule of the fitness classes offered near the front desk or posted on boards around the gym. Ask a staff member if you need further clarification on any of the classes. Many gyms offer a free trial class, so if you’re not already a member of a gym, try out different gyms until you find the classes that you enjoy the most.