My interest in physical fitness only started about two and a half years ago.
In October of 2010, I was 10 months out from my wedding and I had just moved back home to save some extra money. A bit of extra money each month meant that I could join a local gym, something I had wanted to do but couldn’t squeeze into my budget when I lived on my own.
Immediately after joining the gym, I tried out BodyPump for the first time. This was the class I had heard the most about (mostly from other blogs). I remember my arms shaking as I drove home from my first class, and I could barely muster up the strength to wash my hair afterwards.
For a while, most of my gym visits centered around BodyPump. I’d hop on some of the cardio machines from time to time, but with work, wedding planning, and grad school, it was hard to make it to the gym more than three times each week. I always made sure that at least two of those visits coincided with BodyPump.
Since then, I’ve started branching out a bit and now I regularly participate in a variety of group exercise classes at my gym. In fact, I almost exclusively take classes at my gym, rarely using the cardio/strength equipment.
If you’re looking to get started with group exercise—or try something new—here are a few of my favorites:
Pump is a strength class, but also incorporates cardio in a few tracks. Each class begins with a warm-up, and then follows with tracks dedicated to certain muscle groups. The class always follows the same order: warm-up, squats, chest, back, triceps, biceps, lunges/legs, shoulders, abs, cool down. I love schedules and consistency, so I appreciate the fact that I always know what’s coming. Every few months, Les Mills launches a new release. Each release still follows the same order, but different songs/new moves are added. My muscles are always sore after a new release!
2) CX Worx
CX is also a Les Mills class. It focuses on core strength and incorporates sit-ups, planks, and various exercises with resistance bands. This class is tough, and I usually have to modify some of the moves! Since I’ve been taking the class regularly, I’ve definitely noticed my core strength building. One of the things I like most about this class is that it’s only 30 minutes—perfect for when I only have time for something quick.
I’ve got to put a disclaimer on this one… I’ve only recently started taking BodyStep (maybe a total of 6 times so far?) and I’ve only done the express class offered by my gym (30 minutes versus a full hour). This class is like step aerobics on steroids. I always feel like I’m getting as much of a mental workout as I am a physical one—I really need to think about the moves and what I’m doing. I definitely look like a giant goober during this class—picture arms flailing, steps being missed, a general look of bewilderment and confusion—but I really have fun! Plus, it leaves me huffing and puffing (cardio!) and my legs feeling like jelly (strength!).
Spin was the second class I tried after I started taking Pump (however, it was months later). Spin can be a little intimidating—you have to set up the bike and if you’ve never taken a class before, it’s hard to know what to expect—so it might be a good idea to go with a friend (that’s what I did!). The only downside to spin (for me, anyway) is if an instructor doesn’t vary the workout enough. There are some spin teachers who seem to use the same playlists over and over (hearing the beginning of Sandstorm makes me want to unclip and run for the hills), or they inundate a class strictly with sprints; that gets boring. If you don’t love spin class the first time you try it, I’d suggest giving it another go, perhaps with a different instructor. It can make a huge difference!
Which do you prefer—group exercise or working out on your own?
If you’re a fan of group exercise, what’s your favorite class? There are two other classes that I regularly attend at the gym—bosu and Total Fit. Both are circuit-style classes.
Any questions about any of the class mentioned above? Not that I’m an expert, but I do take them pretty often!