Fitness Friday – Five Fitness Classes You Need to Try

In my experience, there are two kinds of exercisers:

1. The kind who are only motivated to workout by going to fitness classes

2. The kind that stick to their own thing in the cardio and weights area

Neither is wrong or right, you gotta do whatever gets you up and moving every day. But I do think it is important that everyone try a class at least once. Why?

  • It’s a great way to shake up your workout routine
  • It challenges you in ways you won’t when left to your own devices
  • It’s something you have to fit into your schedule and feel obligated to go to
  • It’s social! The people, the music, the energy. Working out for “me time” is fabulous, but it’s great to have some buddies there for support sometimes too.

There are tons of exercise classes out there to choose from. These are my top 5 picks.  

Most of these classes are offered by regular gyms, however you sometimes have to get creative when wanting to try out new classes. If you’re not a member of a gym, or can’t afford certain studios, see if you can pay per visit. Check into free classes in your area, such as at Lululemon and community centres. Some places will offer cheap 1-2 week trials or give you your first class free. Keep your eyes peeled! Even if you can’t attend long-term, trying it once is enough to keep things fun :)


1. Spin

Of all the fitness classes out there, I think spin class may be feared the most. The above scene from Run Fatboy Run definitely did not help matters. To be honest, the first class is a little tough. But the great thing about spin is that you get what you put into it! Take it easy if you want to! Keep your resistance and cadence low. Take a few extra seated breaks and breathers between songs. Make sure you arrive early so the instructor can help you adjust your bike. An incorrect bike fit will make the experience more painful than it has to be. Your butt will survive!

Some people are also afraid of spin because it’s a leg focused. It’s not going to give you thunder thighs. It’s mostly a cardio endurance workout with high intensity intervals, which are proven to burn fat more than moderate cardio workouts. Even though you may stay in the same spot the whole class, I assure you the pumping tunes and fast pace won’t bore you!


2. Step

There are a lot of 1980s fads best left in that decade – step aerobics is not one of them! Step is a lot like a dance class, but with the addition of height to make the moves harder. It is a much better cardio workout than more popular dance-inspired workouts, and most classes will include an upper body and core strengthening component as well.

Again, don’t be scared that this one is too hard! Let the instructor know you’re new and they will help you set up your step. It will take a few classes until you get the step patterns down, but once you do, it’s a blast. If you ever get lost, just do a “basic step” to keep your heart pumping until you can jump back in, and don’t be embarrassed!

Just… be prepared to wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care ;)


3. Kettlebell

Kettlebells are badass. An iron weight with a handle used to swing in all sorts of directions. Be careful believing the hype that it burns up to 1000 calories in one hour. A newbie definitely won’t be able to push that hard. But there’s no doubt you get a great weight training and cardio workout out of this one. Two birds with one stone. (pun slightly intended)


The reason why I suggest doing this in a class format, is because it’s important to get proper instruction on how to use kettlebells. Your form has to be spot on or you risk injuring yourself. Swinging that kind of weight around without knowing what you’re doing can be dangerous! Not to mention, it’s hard to find the motivation to do 50 kettlebell swings on your own. Different story when you have an instructor barking in your ear.


4. Kickboxing/Boxing

Okay, so you won’t be fighting your classmates like in the above picture. Kickboxing and boxing are technically two different classes (my gym offers boxing with gloves and bags, most just offer kickboxing in an empty studio). This is another class where you get what you put in. Some people say it’s the best workout they’ve had, while others complain it’s too easy. Put some power behind those punches! These classes feature some great functional training (ie strengthening your body for every day movements). However, again, it’s important to pay attention to that form so you don’t pull anything!

Even if you’re a laid back gal such as myself, I truly believe we all have a little something in us that just wants to beat the sh*t out of things ;)


5. YOGA!

If you go to just one of the classes I’ve mentioned here today, I want it to be this one. Flexibility is SO important to health and well-being, and yet it’s the part that most frequently gets ignored by fitness minded folk. I can usually tell 10 minutes into that first session with a client whether or not they do or have done yoga. Their form and balance are better, their movements are more intentional and focused. Do yoga my friends. And do it in a class where an instructor can teach you. It is light-years ahead of the experience you will get on your living room floor.


I would also like to add that if you’re doing strength-based classes like Body Pump, it’s important not to rely solely on that class for your weight training. Your muscles are highly adaptable. If the purpose of your weight training is to get muscle definition, then it’s important to keep those muscles guessing. It’s okay to still go to the class once in a while, but make sure you’re doing different exercises on your own or with a trainer too :)


And with that, I am off! See ya tomorrow for a recap of this…



Question of the Day: What’s your favourite fitness class? What’s one you still want to try?

Posted on September 10, 2010, in Fitness Friday and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. I did a pilates class about 10 years ago and since then the only other group thing has been free lululemon yoga this summer. I did decide that I needed more group stuff in my life so I joined a new gym last week that’s just been built and offers 150 different group classes a week. I’m super excited! The ones I look forward to are the various yoga, especially anti-gravity yoga! also pilates, zumba and spinning, but there’s so many I don’t think I’ll ever get bored!

  2. I used to be a #2 and then started taking classes because I was so over planning out my workouts after my competition. Now I know I will always have a variety of the two. Plus workout DVDs (like Cathe step :D). Spin is my #1 on my list.

  3. I love doing Yoga classes. As much as I enjoy being able to roll out my mat and doing a quick dvd in my room, I like the unpredictability of a class. Plus sometimes you get an awesome teacher who will go around the room and help you to get into the right position or push harder than you expected or could on your own.

    Great suggestions. Though, I have to be honest, I’ve tried Spin but I just can’t get over the uncomfortableness of the seat. It leaves my butt way too sore!

    Nicole G

  4. I am really a do-it-yourself kind of person when it comes to exercise.. (code meaning: I am shy)

    So I tend to not even go to gyms and run on my treadmill / exercise video :P

  5. i love the karma yoga class i go to on sundays, its so wonderful it refreshes me for the week ahead
    I really want to try zumba! im such a terrible dancer i think it would be hilarious

  6. Oooh I’m a class whore! I’ve tried allof your 5 listed. and Love Love Love them all!. well that is to say all that my gym a.k.a. community centre offer. I love that they started a Bosu class 2 sessions ago, so much fun! Sadly they do not offer zumba classes :-( so I am left wanting to try that.

    I plan on hitting the kettlebell classes at 6am when the class starts.

  7. Oh, exciting! I love Toronto’s veg food fair. Too bad I’m missing it this year :(

    Love those kickboxing/boxing photos, hehe. Unleash your anger, indeed!

    One class I’ve been wanting to try is a combination of yoga and dance…can’t remember what it was called exactly but it sounded very chill and fun!

  8. Only class I do is RPM (Spin) except I’m in a bad routine of it being the only time a week I get my ass to the gym. It’s when a best mate and I can catch up on each others weeks, when I get to see how she’s doing. Lol come to think about it, lots of awesome weekend plans are made here for our group :)

    Spin class is normally bout 55 minutes if I get there for warm up, trying to push for 17-20km and +550 cal, trying to get avg HR under 155. I like the look of the Kettlebell, but my gym doesn’t offer classes for it :( think I might ask an instructor for some pointers.

    Oh and on a personal note, 2 weeks today I fly out to Bangkok for 2 days, then Phuket for 8 woohoooo

  9. I know it seems a little cheesy but I swear it’s amazing and a total blast –> ZUMBA


  10. I LOVE spinning, I think it’s a great workout as it’s pretty much non stop. I took my mum once and she wasn’t so keen however-she was very saddle sore afterwards and said that I’d ‘broken’ her bits!! So I guess it’s not for everyone ;)

  11. I have just switched from a gym that offered very few classes to the local YMCA that has tons of classes. I am really enjoying trying out different ones. This week I did Zumba, shallow water aquafit and deep water aquafit. Next week I am trying the spin class and a Total Body Conditioning class. My new trainer is incorporating classes into my routine which I just love!

  12. I have yet to try kettle bells. Loved spin, but my fave is step aerobics :) I’m an 80’s girl at heart ;)

  13. I LOVE spin, kickboxing and yoga. However my favorite is Zumba! Love it!

    I have yet to try kettlebells, and want to!


  14. Hi! Long time reader, but new commenter! I would say my favorite fitness classes are spin and kickboxing. I love feeling like I am being pushed to my limits during a class and those two are definitely “limit pushers”. I would really like to try a kettlebell class because it looks like it would work muscles that usually don’t get used if your are just lifting weights.

  15. I LOVE spin class and I’m dying to try Body Pump!

    See ya today!

  16. I just can’t get into spin. No idea why. Maybe just being on a bikie and thats it starts to make me anxious. I want to move around more!

    my favorite claass is zumba!!

  17. Kirsten @ Cooking in Japan

    Favorite class: Ashtanga yoga
    Want to try: Zumba – I don’t even know if they have it here in Japan

  18. YAY thanks for promoting spin! ;) It’s definitely my fave of the 5, because I’m a sweaty beast by nature and need to be dripping and out of breath at the end of my workouts (ok, a bit extreme, but whatever.) Have fun at the Vegetarian Fair! I really wish I could make it there this weekend but hopefully we can get together soon. Lemme know if you’re still down for the weekend of the 18th/19th and we can start to make some plans with Callie :)

  19. Definitely good choices there I would have to add one more though and thats circuits after doing them for the past 6 weeks I’m a convert and love love love them!

  20. SUSAN!! THis is a great post! Sooo informative and I agree with everything you said about all of the classes with safety and form etc.

    I am a class whore right now. My latest love is hip hop and zumba, but I still go to boxing, kickboxing, & step. Ironically (why does this always happen) I have a post in the queue about my gym-whorishness. Not yet finished.

    But after my gym class, then I put on my gloves and my ipod and hit the weight room.

    I haven’t done body pump or spin in a while- fell in and then out of love. But I may return. Also with body pump it frightens me to see people’s HORRIBLE form and the instructor can’t go around and correct 30 people=I’m amazed Les Mills hasn’t been sued a zillion times (or maybe he has??) for people getting injured. Also Girl Hero Jenn discusses how even a lot of the experts have terrible videos showing improper KB form, so she cautions with their use.

    Super duper post my firend and I’m about to send you a THANK YOU email for a special package I just came home to find!! :-D

  21. I love all of them, but yoga has definitely become a recent fav :)

  22. Spin class is #1 on my list of “to try classes.” Unfortunately my gym is almost always full!! I wish they had more classes.

  23. My favourite is circuit training. Wouldn’t mind trying kick boxing someday.

    Funny how the first post I see in my feed today is on group fitness classes. Why? I was going to pass on some info to you. I came across a podcast on group fitness that I thought was for the regular joe but it’s geared more towards folks like yourself who are trainers. If you’re interested look up Group Fitness Talk Radio in Itunes. I would think episode 6 would be especially interesting to you.

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