A lot of people go to the gym and do their own thing and there’s something to be said about forging your own path to success. Before you dismiss anything else, you need to consider these classes that your gym offers for even greater results.
It’s one of life’s cruel, absurd realities: Working out is the best thing you can do for your health, but it can end up feeling like the most tedious chore ever. And sadly, if you’re not having fun and seeing results, it’s guaranteed that you’ll get fed up and stop exercising altogether at some point. To prevent this from happening, you need something that’s challenging, fun and effective. In these cases, the world of group exercise classes can be life changing. With all the fitness classes and bootcamps offered these days, finding the right one for you can be hard. But don’t be intimidated. Choosing wisely and getting the most of your group workouts is a lot easier than it seems. From a cool yoga/Pilates mix to a powerful kickboxing routine and beyond, all the best fitness classes with the most benefits are right here. So read on and you’ll be moving and grooving your way to better health in no time.
#1 Barre Class
If you’re looking for something fairly low impact that provides startling results, try out barre classes. These fitness classes are ballet-inspired, mixing elements of Pilates, dance, functional training and yoga. Motivating music, a ballet barre and exercise equipment (such as mini-balls and small hand weights) are strategically included in this unique workout. The best part is that anyone can do these moves and achieve results, regardless of age, weight or fitness level. It reduces pressure on your joints, tendons and ligaments, thanks to the super controlled, low-impact movements. Flexibility and core strength improvements help prevent injuries. You’ll also be forcing your muscles to tone through muscle fatigue. The small motions, high reps and isometric movements (squeezes and pulses) force the muscles to shake uncontrollably. This is encouraged, because it means you are exhausting your muscles to the point of failure and, as a result, making them stronger. The fact that this workout can give you both an increased range of motion/flexibility and strength is quite amazing. And you’ll raise your metabolic rate. This will allow you to produce more energy, burn calories and redistribute inches on your body. All of this will make you appear longer and leaner. The rapid results aren’t a bad perk either. Many barre class fans claim that after only five sessions, you’ll be able to see all of the results. If you’ve always craved a dancer’s body and fitness level, this is the class for you.
#2 UFC Fit
For a more non-traditional yet highly effective class, train like the MMA fighters do with UFC Fit. This is a full-body workout that follows a precise series of drills, done in timed rounds. Specifically, you’ll be doing rounds of plyometric moves, working with punching bags and performing bodyweight exercises. Along with the warm-up and cool down, you’ll get the perfect total body, high-intensity interval training. The drills stimulate peak cardio capacity, build strength, sharpen balance and improve flexibility. It is a great setting for cross-training as well. You’ll also burn fat, build lean muscle and become a better fighter (if that’s what you want). For feeling powerful and proud of what your body can do, UFC Fit is one of the best things around.
#3 Spin Class
One of the most common and easily understood classes is spinning, otherwise known as cycling. This group exercise really needs no explanation. It’s been talked about endlessly and has basically taken the U.S. by storm. But for those who don’t know, spin class is done on a stationary bicycle (a spin bike) while you follow the instructor’s directions. You will go up and down, faster and slower, the entire time. The popularity and benefits of this don’t lie. You’re going to burn a vast amount of calories. You could burn around 740 calories in an hour-long class to be exact, if you’re going at a vigorous pace. You’ll improve your endurance and cardiovascular health; an intense workout like this definitely gets your heart pumping! The fact that you’re essentially just cycling the entire time means it’s a low impact workout that keeps the pressure off of your knees and feet. Cycling also uses all the large muscle groups in your legs, so expect your thighs, hamstrings, and calves to get toned and shapely. Your core muscles will feel the burn as well; spin instructors are sticklers when it comes to proper technique and posture. And perhaps the greatest benefit is that you’ll build mental strength, through the release of endorphins and the inner stamina it takes to make it to the end. If you haven’t tried a spin class before, add it to your workout bucket list. Maybe you’ll even enjoy it enough to make it one of your go-to fitness classes.
#4 Step Aerobics
Richard Simmons may have been onto something all those years ago. Step aerobics may be an oldie, but it’s stood the test of time. And, it has stuck around for good reasons. This aerobic exercise class gives you energizing music, motivating trainers and choreographed routines in which you step up and down on a heightened surface. The surface is usually a rectangle, square or circular platform that can be elevated by risers (or done without risers for beginners). You can go at your own pace by increasing or decreasing the force, speed, step height and/or range of movements. This active workout has countless benefits. You’ll get your heart in shape, expand your lung capacity and tone your entire body. It’s also a perfect cross-training activity, especially for runners and cyclists. Don’t let the belief that this is an outdated form of fitness stop you. These classes always come with fresh material, and many even add body sculpting, jump rope or funk aerobics into the mix. Everyone should step up and experience this fun workout at least once.
#5 Barry’s Bootcamp
It can become boring quickly doing the same exercise routine day in and day out. And oftentimes, you just want a little bit of everything. Barry’s Bootcamp is here to solve all of your plateau and boredom problems. This bootcamp combines treadmill and resistance training into a fast-paced workout. The strength-training portion is done on the floor and is changed up every class. A different body part is focused on each time: Abs, arms, butt, legs, chest, back, etc. The cardio portion is done on a treadmill. And you’ll superset these two portions, meaning that you’ll switch between strength and cardio many times in a single class, varying the moves and intensities as you go along. This one-of-a-kind technique shocks the unassuming body in a way that allows you to achieve surprisingly effective results. You’ll improve your cardiovascular system, drop pounds, lose inches and gain muscle. All in all, you could end up burning about 1,000 calories in just one hour. The best thing is, you’ll want to stick with this, since every class is new, fun and exciting. Staying with a workout and not falling victim to the dreaded plateau stage is the guaranteed way to long-lasting benefits. Find a Barry’s Bootcamp and check out a class. There are locations all across the U.S., and even internationally, so you have no excuse and lots to look forward to.
In terms of hybrid-style fitness creations, the blend of Pilates and yoga into PiYo (also known as Yogalates) is definitely one of the coolest. Traditional yoga poses and flow sequences help you gain flexibility while Pilates mat work helps you strengthen your core and muscles. You will get benefits galore. You’ll increase the range of motion in your joints, improve your balance, increase your energy levels and reduce stress. Unlike yoga or Pilates on their own, PiYo is aerobic. This means these classes combine dynamic, constantly flowing movements to increase your heart rate, burn calories and make you sweat. But don’t get scared away. Yoga is all about making the practice your own and taking your time with the poses, so this workout is ideal for all fitness and yoga/Pilates familiarity levels. If you want a fun, high energy, low impact, hybrid fitness class, look no further than PiYo. It’s a mind, body and spirit workout like no other.
#7 Les Mills BodyPump
Don’t be fooled by impostors! For the most effective barbell class around, you need an official Les Mills BodyPump class. This is the original barbell class, meant to sculpt, tone and strengthen your entire body. It’s so regulated that there’s actually a proven formula, call The Rep Effect. Revered in the resistance-training world, The Rep Effect focuses on low weight loads and high rep movements. In terms of benefits, you’ll burn fat, gain all-over strength, produce lean body mass and condition your muscles to be tougher. A weight-room exercise like squats, presses, lifts and curls will challenge all of your major muscle groups in ways you never thought possible. The instructors are held to strict standards, so you’ll get high-quality exercises and rapid results every time. When you really want to work hard for your health, BodyPump is the way to go.
Party and dance your way into shape with the Latin-inspired moves of Zumba. This fairly new fitness class fuses global rhythms with fun Latin-style dances such as mambo and salsa. The perks come from the fact that you’ll end up losing yourself in the music and then discovering yourself in shape. Zumba provides a very large calorie burn. You could expect to burn about 600 to 1,000 calories per class. Interval training and energy expenditure is maximized to put you into that prime fat-burning zone. You have to stay sharp to follow these dance moves, so you’ll end up boosting your coordination. It builds up your aerobic endurance, allowing you to reach your target heart rate easier by using songs that play at around 145 beats per minute and encouraging you to keep up with those beats. Zumba also builds up your anaerobic endurance. How? It helps you maintain a good cardiovascular respiratory system by increasing the amount of oxygen you can breathe during high-intensity events. For mental health, it’s the perfect workout for eliminating stress. The upbeat moves help to release mood-boosting endorphins. For those who love to dance around, Zumba is the perfect fitness class.
#9 Turbo Kick
Like the idea of kickboxing, but not quite ready to put on the gloves? Well luckily, there’s Turbo Kick. This is a mix of traditional kickboxing and hip-hop dance moves. It’s a high-intensity, total body workout set to fast-paced music. Similar to Zumba, it requires carefully following moves, so coordination is a guaranteed benefit. It is also highly aerobic, allowing you to burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. You’ll therefore, lose weight and improve your cardiovascular health. It’s unavoidable that you’ll master strength building as well. Punches executed with precision and power help build upper body muscles. Learning how to kick properly allows your hamstrings and lower body muscles to grow stronger. Contorting your body into various positions to properly perform the moves strengthens your abs muscles. And finally, the balancing required for certain moves boosts your core strength. If you admire all of the awesome things that kickboxers do, copy them with Turbo Kick. You’ll get fit from head to toe!
# 10 Aqua Aerobics
For the elderly, those with injuries or those just looking to take it a little easier, Aqua Aerobics is a great fit. These classes are a blend of cardio and resistance training. It is done while submerged in water, and includes equipment such as buoyant water weights and pool noodles. The water allows you to tone and sculpt your body with little-to-no impact on your joints. Almost any fitness class has an aqua equal you can take instead. Short, sweet and to the point: If you need to give your body some TLC, but still want all the great perks of standard exercise, head to the water.
Many of these fitness classes have the same life-changing health benefits. So when it comes right down to it, choose what’s right for you and what you know you’ll have fun with. Most importantly, go at your own pace and modify to your needs. Challenge yourself! But, listen to your body and don’t do more than it can safely handle, especially when trying something new. There’s an endless world of classes out there to explore. Happy hunting! By Nicole Dimacale