Choosing the Right Gym Class for You

There are so many gym classes available, so how do you find the best one? It’s all about picking the right class for you and that depends on what you’re looking for – is it a cardio workout, strength training, toning or circuit work, with some fun thrown in? We take a look at four different classes and the reasons why working out is so good for you!

Boxing Class

What is it?

Boxing classes are sometimes known as Boxercise, Aerobox or some other fancy name, but they’re all different names for a fitness class that uses boxing moves and techniques. The best part is that you get a great workout without the glove-to-head physical contact of boxing, and it’s a good way to increase your general level of fitness and exercise.

A boxing class usually includes shadow boxing, skipping, hitting pads, kicking punch bags, push-ups and sit-ups and combines well with other forms of fitness exercise.

It focuses on upper-body conditioning, working the arms, abs, chest and shoulders. It also includes some lower-body exercises. The constant movement challenges your aerobic stamina and the short, sharp movements train your anaerobic system.

Benefits

Improved hand-eye coordination, and unlike other sports, boxing improves your hand-eye coordination on both the left and right side.

A boxing class is around 70 per cent anaerobic, which helps build lean muscle mass, and 30 per cent aerobic, which increases the stamina in your heart and lungs.

Boxing strengthens the muscles used in everyday activities, such as lifting, as well as the fast-twitch muscles required for short, sharp movements.

It develops core strength, which helps reduce your risk of injury, improves balance and posture and can increase the power and strength in your other muscles.

Zumba

What is it?

Zumba is an aerobic-style class that combines Latin music with easy dance moves. It exploded onto the fitness scene in the early 2000s and by 2007 had become a global phenomenon, achieving credibility with many fitness icons.

Zumba classes incorporate interval training with resistance training. The routines alternate between low and high-intensity rhythms to loud, energetic music.

Benefits

Research has shown that after completing a Zumba class, participants burnt an average of 369 calories – more than in step aerobics, kickboxing and power yoga.

It doesn’t matter what fitness level you’re at, Zumba improves cardio health for beginners and experts alike. It’s fun, energetic, focuses on group training and challenges coordination.

Spinning

What is it?

Spinning (also known as RPM at some gyms) involves riding a stationary bike through a series of sprints, hill climbs and flat-level pace tracks. The instructor tells you when to turn the resistance dial up or down, and you’re generally (though not always) encouraged to pedal in time to the music during the classes.

However, you’re in control of the resistance in the pedals, so you can decide how hard or easy to go – even if the instructor is yelling, “Turn up the dial NOW!!”

Benefits

An excellent cardio workout that really gets the heart pumping.

It’s a great calorie-burner – one study showed participants in a 40-minute spin class churned through an average of 475 calories.

It builds strength and tone in the legs and glutes.

It’s a low-impact exercise that doesn’t require any jumping around or running, so can be good for those with joint problems (consult your doctor first though).

Even though beginners may be put off by the sight of experienced spinners going at it full pelt during the class, spinning is perfect for those starting out as they can keep the dial on their bikes as low as they like until their fitness improves.

Pilates

What is it?

Pilates is a form of exercise that builds your body's core strength and posture. Performed on a mat, it’s a series of stretching and conditioning exercises with a flowing movement. A Pilates class focuses on the principles of alignment, control, precision, breathing and flow.

Pilates can be a good strength-training workout, but it isn't aerobic exercise. For the best results, you'll need to supplement it with cardio training such as brisk walking, running, biking or swimming.

Benefits:

  • Improved core stability.
  • Improved posture and balance.
  • Improved flexibility.
  • Prevention and treatment of back pain.

Get the Most Out of Your Gym Class

  • Leave your pride at the door.
  • Stand at the front of the room so that the instructor can see and advise you.
  • Position yourself in front of a mirror to monitor your form.
  • Some gyms have short courses at the weekend, or a 15-minute instruction class before the actual class begins, where you can learn tips on correct technique and alignment.

So what are you waiting for? Whether it’s punching bags, shaking your booty, cycling your heart out or improving your core strength, the best class for you is out there! If you want, you can mix them up with gym workouts. The most important part is to gain confidence at your own pace - and have fun!

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