If you don’t want to workout alone, or you struggle to stay motivated without someone else there to push and guide you, there are plenty of fitness classes to join. Whether you're a beginner at the gym or you just don't have much fitness knowledge, group fitness classes may be your solution. There are lots of different classes to choose from whether you’re going alone, or with a friend. Here are some of the most popular fitness classes, explained:
- Zumba: This fun and popular fitness class combines Latin dance, hip-hop, martial arts, and resistance training. A typical 60-minute class helps relieve stress, tone muscles, and burn calories. Perfect for all ages and fitness levels, it’s the perfect cross training workout.
- Hiit: Also known as high-intensity interval training, this fitness class will give you an all-round workout using intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods. This type of workout gets your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time than some other workouts.
- Boxercise: This fitness class is based on the training concepts boxers use to keep fit. Classes can take a variety of formats but a typical one may involve shadow-boxing, skipping, press-ups, shuttle-runs, sit-ups, and hitting pads and punch bags. It can seriously improve motor skills, balance, reaction time, and overall agility.
- Barre: Also known as Ballet Fit, is a ballet-inspired fitness class which uses high repetitions of small, precise movements to tone muscle, build strength, and improve overall posture and balance. Quicker-paced classes can serve as a good cardiovascular workout too.
- Bikram yoga: Commonly referred to as ‘hot yoga’, Bikram is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees to ease the body into its most flexible state. Challenging the mind and body alike, this form of yoga focuses on the importance of oxygen flow and breathing. It helps to improve balance, build strength, and tone muscles, sculpting your body with every class.
- Pilates: This low-impact, conditioning workout is full of body-sculpting moves that doesn’t require much space or equipment. Instructors help you connect the mind and body through a series of small, breath-controlled movements that help build flexibility, posture, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs, abs, arms, hips, and back.
- Spinning: This form of indoor cycling comes with an enthusiastic instructor who guides you on special stationary bikes through an intense cardio workout that focuses on strength, endurance, intervals, bursts of high-intensity, and active recovery. With some fun and motivational music to keep your energy up.
What are the benefits of going to fitness classes?
There are many reasons why joining a fitness class is far better than going it alone:
- Motivation: It's inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by dedicated, like-minded individuals. It doesn't get much more empowering than a class with an encouraging instructor and supportive people all working hard together. Group fitness is a great way to help motivate yourself and others to dig deeper and push harder in workouts.
- Structure: Group fitness is a great way to get a workout in without having to think or plan. Each class is structured with a warm-up to raise your heart rate while loosening your joints and muscles, followed by a balanced workout, and then a cool-down to safely lower your heart rate and stretch all the major muscles worked during class.
- Proper form: It's the fitness instructor's job to not only show proper form, but to also make sure that everyone in the class is executing each exercise in the right way. Proper form is important so your muscles can get the most out of every exercise, and it also helps eliminate potential injuries.
- Variety: Spin classes, Pilates, Hiit Training - the list goes on. It’s great to mix up your routine and do various different classes to work different muscle groups and to give you an all-round workout. It also helps prevent boredom.
Group fitness classes are a lot of fun, with upbeat music and a great workout with a group of like-minded people motivating each other along the way. It's an enjoyable way to exercise, and you’re less likely to skip sessions if you sign up (and pay) in advance. And invite a friend, or pop the class in your calendar like any other appointment so you stick to it.
What are the best apps for cross training?
Having a few useful apps on your phone can really help you reach your fitness goals. There are many apps which can help with cross training, such as Nike+ Run Club which is a tool for runners with GPS tracking, and Endomondo which gives ‘audio encouragement’ to motivate you during your bike rides. And not forgetting Decathlon Coach which uses a vocal coach to guide you throughout your workouts and measures your activity.
There are also apps which focus more on building muscle mass, as well as helping you to stick to a healthy diet. Here are a few to choose from:
- BodySpace: Made up of a large fitness community as well as lots of useful information and videos, this free app can really help you train to your potential. It’s been developed in partnership with bodybuilding experts and nutritionists, and athletes, and gives you information on the right kind of workouts to get started with to reach your goals.
- Fitness & Bodybuilding: This is a comprehensive fitness app with a workout designed for each part of your body, allowing you to pick the one you’re most comfortable with. The app also offers plans for powerlifting and bodybuilding, in addition to fitness, and you can glance through your previous workouts to get an idea of how you’re progressing.
- GainGuy: This free app is designed to help you gain muscle and train towards a fitter body. The app primarily tells you about what to eat in order to maintain a healthy diet, and aid in muscle building or weight loss. It doesn’t offer workout information, so keep this only as a diet guide. There’s a huge food and recipe database too that will help you reach your goals.