By Johanna Lopez, PhD Candidate, Dietetic Intern, NCSF CPT, Zumba Gold Licensed
I am not the rare person who jumps out of bed early in the morning into my tennis shoes to go out for a run by myself. I tried a couple of times to take my dog with me, but he refuses to get out of bed early in the morning. I have spent money on gym memberships and on personal trainers at different points in my life but would continuously talk myself into not going. The main reason was how much I hated going through the physical pain on my own. However, I knew I had to exercise for my overall health and I recognized that lack of knowledge and motivation were my main barriers for exercising; therefore, I embarked on a journey to discover the best way to get myself moving. One of the things I did was to become a certified Pilates instructor, personal trainer, and a licensed Zumba instructor. At that point I had the knowledge that gave me confidence to perform exercise on my own and to make basic recommendations to patients/clients. However, I was still lacking the motivation. How could I tell a patient/client to exercise if I can’t even get myself motivated to do so? Thus, I try group classes to find motivation and they work!
Are group fitness classes right for you?
Motivation is one of the reasons why group fitness classes are great. Those who show up for group fitness classes are more likely to get motivated to engage into exercise when they see others doing it. Everyone in the class leaves their everyday ups and downs to the side, and brings into the classroom the energy and enthusiasm necessary to help each other to improve fitness in a fun, structured and directed environment. Group fitness classes make the participants accountable. Participating in group classes with friends or making new friends at the class meetings encourages a person to show up to class. Group fitness classes are also great to meet people with similar interests and fitness goals, and sometimes it can develop into friendships that go beyond a workout. Another advantage of group exercise is that if you don’t have the skills to perform exercise safely and can’t afford a personal trainer, group fitness classes with certified personal trainer and/or licensed group fitness instructors is a great way to learn technique and proper exercise performance at an affordable price.
Popular group classes:
Do you like dancing? If so, Zumba is a great option for you even if you do not know how to dance! It is a fun cardio workout that includes simple choreographies to Latin and International music. The energy and vibe brought in by the instructor and attendees and the high volume music is more than enough to get your body moving and dance those calories off. This workout is great for improving cardiopulmonary fitness and shaking those extra pounds off but the downside is it doesn’t provide any strength training that is important for bone health and physical functioning.
Chances are that there is someone you know who does crossfit. This is a full body strength and conditioning program that combines cardio, Olympic and regular weight lifting, and core training. It provides a competitive environment that will keep you motivated, but although a little competition helps push yourself harder, always listen to your body! Depending on the work out of the day (A.K.A. the WOD), aerobic exercise is a minimal portion of the WOD and it is mostly designed to improve strength, power, endurance or hypertrophy. Depending on your goals, here is a guide of the number of exercises, sets, repetitions, intensity and rest interval you need to achieve these. Crossfit is designed for anyone regardless of experience. However, keep in mind that it requires proper technique to perform safely. Crossfit is usually performed in an open warehouse and depending on the box, it may or may not have air conditioning. If you do like to get down and dirty, then this setting is deal for you!
Orange theory fitness:
A 60 minute heart rate based interval training class. It is founded on the theory of post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After exercising, oxygen consumption is increased due to catecholamine release, elevated cardiac and pulmonary function and the need to remove lactate and hydrogen byproducts of metabolism and replenish energy sources. In order to satisfy the oxygen needs to restore the body to pre-exercise state, energy needs to be expended at an elevated rate and hence, increasing your metabolic rate. EPOC depends on the intensity of the workout, and performing at an intensity above 84% of your maximum heart rate (A.K.A. orange heart rate zone and thus the name Orange theory fitness) will increase your metabolic rate after exercise for 24-36 hours, and thus you will continue to burn calories beyond the ones you already burned during exercise. This class has 2 training blocks. One block is aerobic and it involves interval indoor rowing, walking, jogging or running at different intensities.The other block is a weight training block in which free weights, TRX, medicine balls, benches and Bosu balls are used to build muscle strength, endurance and power. Each class is different as they have different goals whether its endurance, power, strength or the three in one session. It is a great way to burn calories, shed some pounds, tone your muscles and build strength and improve agility.