In this two-part series, we’re taking a look at some of the types of popular exercise classes you can take up if you’re looking for a new way to keep fit. In part one, we talked about the benefits of working out in group classes — socializing opportunities, added motivation and accountability, and proper guidance from your instructor — as well as some examples of popular fitness classes these days. Now in part two, we’ll be looking at even more examples of these exercise classes, and how they can benefit you and turn your usual boring workout into something that’s actually fun yet effective.
Barre is another type of fitness program that was developed based on a form of dance — ballet. Don’t worry, the ballerina tutus and special shoes are optional, and you won’t need to learn the full spectrum of ballet moves either.
Instead, this workout is primarily focused on body weight exercises, such as planks and push-ups, before switching to squats and other movements that focus on toning your lower body. Sounds simple? You might want to think again. Advanced classes will have you doing more intense moves like pliés, relevés, and sauté jumps, and these will effectively target your thighs and glutes. Your core and arm muscles will also be engaged as you follow through the ballet-inspired movements, which can help to slim, tone, and condition them.
More than just a workout, barre also teaches you how to improve your balance, flexibility, and even your stability. It’s also a great exercise to pick up if you have joint injuries or arthritis, as it is typically a low impact workout. When you start getting comfortable with the basic movements, increase the intensity by adding some light weights into the mix — these will help you to burn more calories and give you a more complete workout.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular exercise classes these days, spinning has taken the world by storm. Also known as indoor cycling, spin classes simply involve an exercise bicycle and high-energy, thumping music that is meant to make you feel like moving.
Spinning is a high-intensity cardio exercise that focuses on burning fat and improving heart health, as well as giving your legs a thorough workout. Throughout the session, the instructor will guide the class through different types of cycling, such as uphill climbs, quick bursts of speed, standing and pedalling, and short periods of recovery. The music is also a big part of the spin class experience. Fast-paced songs with quick, steady beats will encourage you to keep pedalling quickly, or slower-paced songs will help you follow the rhythm when it’s time to slow down and catch your breath.
If you’re the sort that loves going to clubs and dancing the night away, spinning may be just the type of exercise class you’re looking for. Be warned though — it’s not a full-body workout, but it is highly intense exercise class. Expect your legs to be working non-stop, so your thighs, quads, hamstrings, and even your glutes will feel the burn. The good thing is you’ll have gorgeously toned legs so that itself is probably worth it.
If you’re one of those people who wants rock hard abs, Pilates might be the class for you. It is a form of low-impact exercise that aims to stabilize and strengthen your core muscles, while at the same time improving your posture, mobility, and flexibility.
Similar to yoga, Pilates is all about performing specific poses that target and engage your core muscles, with a stronger emphasis on breathing techniques and proper control of your poses. There are currently two types of Pilates classes — mat classes, and reformer classes. Mat classes will have you working out on a thick exercise mat that is specially designed to cushion your pressure points, while reformer classes make use of an exercise machine called a reformer, and it is more resistance-based.
The focus of Pilates might be the core or abdominal muscles, but you can also expect your arms and legs to be worked out as well. It helps to make you more flexible, while at the same time strengthening your muscles.
If you want a class that is more intense than most others, CrossFit is the one for you. This fitness program is specifically developed to strengthen and tone your full body through a combination of exercises.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a common practice in all CrossFit workouts. These quick bursts of movement, coupled with short rest times, will ensure your heart rate stays up and cause you to burn fat really quickly. HIIT is only the beginning — weight lifting, gymnastics, and intense core training are also a part of the CrossFit experience, with the goal of training you to be an all-rounder in general fitness.
Don’t be intimidated by the intensity of CrossFit, because there are varying levels of difficulty. There are even CrossFit training classes for children, so everyone can be a part of the CrossFit experience.