My quest to get back into good shape - ie. get fitter, tone up and shed a few pounds in the process - has led me to start taking group fitness classes of late. Normally I am more inclined to just go to the gym, put my headphones on, and get on with it, but in the past few weeks I have been finding more motivation and enjoyment through participating in the various classes that my sports centre offers.
The three classes that I have been taking part in, are Zumba (once a week), Body Step (twice a week) and Body Pump (3 times a week) in addition to my sessions in the gym.
Zumba is fun! It is a dance workout, combining a mix of Latin, Caribbean and African dance. The music is great (probably the best music I have ever heard in any exercise class) and this really helps to create a lively and enjoyable atmosphere. I had heard quite a lot about this fitness method, as I think it has really grown in popularity over the past couple of years. They only started offering classes at my gym within the last four months, so when I saw it, I signed me and my mum up immediately, and we've had a good laugh cha-cha-cha-ing, clapping and, er, bootyshaking around the room!
I would say that Zumba is a great addition to a fitness plan, as it is fun, gets you up and moving, and teaches you new movements and rhythm. Fast dance moves get the heart rate up, and many of them incorporate resistance techniques such as lunges and squats, however, as I mentioned, I think this would be a good class to accompany other more vigorous exercise, as personally, I don't think it would be enough on its own if you were looking to tone up and lose weight.
I think step often conjures up images of neon lycra clad women, flouncing about, stepping up and down....well I'm here to tell you, Body Step is no joke. If you want to tone up your leggies, then this is the way to go. An hour of mini routines that last the length of each song will leave every muscle in your legs exhausted. Some routines include moves which are a little more complicated then others, but there are always variations offered which are a little easier and less tiring. Once you go to a few classes though, you tend to pick up the routine...until they change it, which is roughly every three months, I think. I love my Body Step class, and my teacher has great legs, which is inspiring! It is also inspiring that she can teach the class, whilst completing the whole routine herself at the same time...without getting out of breath!
I'm also really enjoying Body Pump, which is a weights workout that involves lifting barbells in routines choreographed to music. Oh my, I have really weak biceps!!! I am loving this class though, as I am definitely noticing an (allbeit slight) improvement in my strength. After my first class I was in agony for days, and could hardly lift my arm to raise a teacup to my lips! Now, I am more in the swing of things, and I love the feeling of satisfaction that completing the class gives me. I also prefer to get my weights workout here, rather than just in the gym, because in the class you are forced to do a whole hour working all the different muscles with many repetitions.
In general, a tough workout class works well for me, because I am too proud to stop when I really feel the burn, whereas I may not push myself as hard if I am training alone.
Now I am just worried that all my hard work will go to waste on my next trip to Americaland...