The Ins and Outs of Gym Classes

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Modern gyms don’t just have treadmills and dumbbells anymore. Now gyms offer a variety of classes like boot camp, Pilates, spinning, and the list goes on. Working out in a class setting will motivate you more than if you were working out on your own — you feel more obligated to go to every class, you work harder, and you push yourself more. If looking at the list of classes your local gym offers overwhelms you, don’t walk away. Here’s a quick guide to just some of these popular classes. Sign up for something you’ve never done before. You’re likely to enjoy it and stick with it!

Belly Dancing — This is an exciting exercise that brings the centuries-old Middle Eastern dance to the Western world. Although movements emanate through the torso, many muscles groups are used in order to create a beautiful dance that flows rhythmically. Your abs, thighs, legs, biceps, glutes, and calves all work hard when you belly dance. This is a form of exercise that will work with your natural movements. You can easily burn a few hundred calories in an hour by dancing intensely.

Boot Camp — Based on military-style training, boot camps use circuit training to work core muscles and to burn serious calories. Although many boot camps are held outdoors, more and more gyms are offering this type of training within their own classrooms. Usually done in four-week, 1-hour intervals, boot camps help increase your cardio level, burn fat, and sculpt and tone muscle. Results from boot camp training can often be seen in two weeks. Types of drills and exercises you can expect: short-distance running, core training, strength training, and hiking. You don’t need to be an athletic monster to join a boot camp. These sessions are meant to be highly challenging and motivational and not frustrating and humiliating. Since you’ll be in a group setting, you’ll find inspiration from the other people around you.  Gear up your body for a mentally and physically rewarding and unique way to get in shape.

Hip Hop Dancing — You get your heart rate up by moving your arms and feet to this form of street dancing. By dancing to energetic music, your body will become more controlled, flexible, and stronger. Most classes will include stretching, breaking down choreography to the basics and then putting it all together and conditioning. Since dancing is all about choreography, it’s easy to be intimidated by the moves and feel lost in the class. This experience happens with everyone who first starts taking these types of classes. Find an area in the class where you can clearly see the instructor. Don’t pay attention to what other people are doing until you get the moves down. As you continue on in the class, your arms and feet will move more smoothly and you’ll be burning fat along the way!

Kickboxing — This style infuses aspects of martial arts and boxing for a total body workout that will have you sweating. By strategically placing your hands or feet, you can take an opponent down. This exercise helps you to lose weight as it increases your flexibility and muscle strength. Through explosive arm movements like jabs and uppercuts, and leg movements like kicks and sweeps, you can create a lean body in no time. Be prepared to feel your muscles burn. One hour of kickboxing can burn almost 500 calories.

Pilates — Created by Joseph Pilate, Pilates transforms the way your body looks by creating a leaner, more toned body that boasts stronger abs, legs, and arms. In Pilates you use a mat or equipment to perform moves that help to elongate your body. You can expect sculpted arms, a strong and muscular abdominal area, and a strong back and chest. You may never have back pain again.

Pole Dancing — It’s exactly what you think. Gain an increase in self-awareness and self-confidence. Pole dancing will have you moving in ways you never imagined your body could. Learn simple breathing exercises and become comfortable with using a pole as a prop for your dancing. Learn moves that will have you moving on the floor and around the pole that will tighten and tone you from head to toe. You will stretch muscles and engage in an aerobic exercise like nothing you’ve ever experienced.

Spinning — An intense and stimulating form of exercise that requires you to ride on stationary bikes while you listen to lively music. Classes usually consist of a warm-up, a steady build-up to sprints, up-hill challenges, and cool-downs. Through the amount of pedaling and resistance you experience, expect to be sweating like there’s no tomorrow. Burn about 600 calories in one hour and tone your thighs — oh yes, the sweat is all worth it.

Step Aerobics — Using an elevated platform, you engage in a cardio workout to music that has you stepping up and down from the platform. This is a form of low-impact aerobics that isn’t hard on your joints and still burns calories and fat. Continued aerobic exercise can lower cholesterol levels, raise your fitness level, control your weight, and reduce body fat. Your overall cardiovascular health will improve.

Yoga — By using controlled breathing and movements, you are using your body, mind, and spirit to achieve total awareness. An ancient Indian practice, yoga promotes positive cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and better circulation. You will also experience improved muscle tone, increased coordination, and flexibility. Yoga is very spiritual and helps to relieve many of the body’s stresses.

I’m this close to signing up for a four-week boot camp. If only it started a lot later in the day instead of 5:30 AM!

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