Monday, June 4, 2012

Workout to a New Groove with Group Exercise Classes!

Group exercise has been unfairly stereotyped for years as old ladies doing grapevines - but times have changed! Today, group fitness classes are abundant and varied. They can also be a great source of external motivation and a healthy way to socialize! Read on to find a group exercise class that fits your needs.

Like to use cardio machines? Try an indoor cycling class (also called spinning at some gyms) or an indoor rowing class. Indoor cycling is a low impact form of exercise that uses intervals to challenge the body. Some gyms offer treadmill, elliptical, and indoor rowing classes to provide a cardiovascular workout without the boredom of exercising alone. All of these classes can be adapted to any level by varying speed and resistance. So, a new exerciser and Lance Armstrong could be in a class together, follow the same routine, and still get a great, safe workout by adapting the settings of the machine to meet individual needs.

Love to dance? Try Zumba, hip hop, or a ballet-inspired class. Zumba is branded Latin dance group exercise that incorporates four different rhythms and styles - merengue, salsa, cumbia, and reggaeton. The class is broken down into easy-to-follow routines that don't require any memorization and allow for plenty of improvisation! Zumba Gold is designed for older adults, specifically addressing the needs of this population. ZumbaAtomic is designed for Zumba’ing youngsters. Visit a local dance studio, gym, or community center for hip-hop or ballet-inspired "Barre" classes.

Want to spend time in the water? Try a deep water exercise, Aqua Zumba, aqua boot camp, or aqua yoga and Pilates. Deep water exercise usually combines both cardio and strength into a no impact workout using flotation devices. Aqua Zumba is a low impact, water based class that follows the traditional Zumba format. Aqua boot camp, aqua yoga, and aqua Pilates take these traditional land based modalities into the shallow water. Water formats are ideal for people with joint problems or limited range of motion.

Like to do drills and intervals? Try a boot camp, functional training, or sports conditioning class. These formats have been increasingly popular among both males and females, and are sometimes taught outdoors for a change of scenery.

Want to try a new trend? Try CrossFit or a TRX class. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program offered by licensed CrossFit affiliates. The workouts focus on high intensity and functional movement. The TRX is a training device which uses gravity and the suspension of body weight to challenge strength and core stability.

Love traditional group exercise formats? Try step, cardio kickboxing, or high-low aerobics. These classic group exercise formats follow the beat of the music and focus on getting the heart-rate up!

Ever tried yoga or Pilates? Look for different styles of yoga and Pilates, like hot yoga, power yoga, "Broga", or Pilates Reformer. Hot yoga is done in a heated room, usually 85-90+ degrees (F), which allows for increased flexibility and range of motion. Yoga for men, or "Broga," is specifically geared towards men and their tighter muscle areas. The Pilates Reformer is a machine that uses pulleys and springs to challenge the body with more resistance.

Want to improve your muscular strength? Look for classes that use dumbbells, stability balls, BOSU balls, body bars, resistance tubing, and more. Most gyms offer strength classes using many different types of equipment. Select a class that uses equipment that is exciting and challenging for you.

Tips for Finding a Group Exercise Class for You 
  • See if the gym or facility offers a trial class before you enroll in the gym or class. 
  • Make sure that both the instructor and other participants are a good match for you. 
  • Be mindful of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level classes. 
  • Select a level that is appropriate, challenging, and fun. 
  • Bring a friend or family member with you as a way to keep you motivated and committed to the program. 
  • Don't knock it until you try it! Give group exercise a chance and see how it can be a great, motivating workout for all!

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