Every woman dreams of having the perfect body, but doing what must be done to get and stay fit can take work and determination. It’s easy to set high goals when it comes to working out, but even easier to let our rules fall by the wayside. So what’s the solution to staying on track with fitness plans and workout goals? One great answer is group exercise.
Group classes offer a great environment to keep you motivated and focused. Many enjoy the camaraderie and competition that come with having fellow classmates. Plus, you benefit from the direct instruction of a qualified instructor. If you are new to group fitness, don’t fear—movements are often designed to be a good fit for all skill levels, ranging from the beginner to the advanced. Usually, gyms don’t make you commit to one type of class, so you can sample all different kinds of classes in order to find the workout and the instructor that’s right for you!
Get Into Group Fitness
By Maggie Ledford
Zumba is a very popular and upbeat form of group exercise that combines Latin dance and resistance training. Hearing the words “Latin dance,” some people immediately shy away, imagining complicated dance steps or routines, but Zumba actually caters to participants of all skill levels. Sequences are fairly simple and repetitive, so most of the time, all you have to do is watch the instructor and follow along. Start going three times a week, and you’ll notice some toning within four weeks. You’ll also burn calories, build stamina, increase bone density, lower blood pressure, and have fun dancing!
If you want to build endurance and burn fat quickly but don’t have the means to ride a bike outdoors all year long, then spin classes may be the perfect option for you. Spin classes use a stationary bicycle designed by professional cyclists to stay in shape during the off season. This workout is perfect for toning the thighs and buttocks, and it also improves posture and aerobic stamina. Plus, you won’t encounter inclement weather conditions mid-workout!
If you’re looking for a type of exercise with many different forms and intensities, yoga could be a great fit for you. A series of natural poses designed to clear the mind and tone the body, yoga works well for people of all skill levels because movements can range from easy to difficult. Because of the quiet, peaceful environment, slow pace of the workout, and controlled breathing, yoga greatly aides in stress reduction, improved balance, and weight loss.
To tone your abs, build strength, and practice better posture, try a session of pilates. Pilates works all different areas of the upper body, and regular sessions can result in bigger abs and a smaller waist. A simple 15-minute workout done three times a week is known to do wonders for the waistline.
If you want a hard workout without the sweat, try aqua aerobics. Water is denser than air, so the workout offers a perfect combination of muscle tone and calorie burn. A less intense swim can burn up to 500 calories per hour, while a maximum effort workout can burn up to 700. Swimming is also easy on your body. Water aerobics takes the pressure off of joints and is great for people of all ages.
For a workout that burns calories and targets arms, shoulders, abs, thighs, and buttocks, give cardio kickboxing a try. Cardio kickboxing is a popular cross-training workout using a series of punches and jabs. As well as helping with strength, flexibility, and coordination, it teaches women how to protect themselves from potential attackers!
A high energy workout that keeps the heart rate consistently elevated, circuit training targets a wide variety of muscles. A circuit training session includes short sections of resistance exercises, each targeting a different muscle group so that no breaks are required. The workout helps to tone muscles in addition to increasing overall strength. Because it targets so many different muscle groups, the body is evenly toned.
If you want to try something more intense than walking, but not quite as intense as running, then step aerobics is the way to go. Step aerobics is a series of movements—usually set to music—performed on a raised step. Routines use both upper and lower body movements, giving participants the chance to improve coordination, build leg strength, and improve the functionality of the heart and lungs. The height of the step can be adjusted to fit different intensity levels.
Tai Chi is a series of martial arts movements that focuses on deep and natural breathing, muscle tone, increased flexibility, improved balance and aerobic exercise to a smaller degree. Tai Chi is frequently targeted toward men and women ages 50 and older due to its minimal intensity, low risk of injury, and accessibility. The workout is said to clear the mind and aid in better sleeping habits.
Whether you are looking for a high intensity, low intensity, muscle toning, or a good cardiovascular workout, group exercise is the way to go to get that fit body! Each of these fitness options can provide you with an easy way to keep your exercise goals and have fun doing it in a group atmosphere. Grab a friend and head over to your local gym to get started today!
Maggie Ledford is an English teacher and coach at Bradley Central High School. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she majored in English and currently resides in Cleveland, Tenn.