Cardio Fitness: A Look at Some of the Most Popular Aerobics Classes

There are many reasons to do aerobic exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, aerobic exercise can reduce health risks such as heart disease, obesity, and stroke, can help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar, boost your mood, help your immune system, and add years to your life. Moreover, engaging in aerobic activity is good way to shed pounds and keep them off.

Various options exist for a cardio workout, including running, swimming, biking, and using an elliptical trainer. Due to the rise in health clubs and discoveries and fitness, a new wave of aerobics classes has also come along with these everyday workouts. Many gyms now include aerobics classes with the purchase of a membership. These classes can help keep your workout interesting and help you stay in shape.

Here is a list of some fun and effective workout classes and what you should expect when you attend:

CARDIO-KICKBOXING

Cardio-kickboxing is high-intensity workout designed to increase your strength and flexibility while burning fat. it combines elements of martial arts, boxing, and traditional aerobics and, according to a study done by the American Council on Exercise (ACE), burns about 350-450 calories per hour. Most cardio-kickboxing classes begin with a warm-up and then move into repetitions of self-defense moves such as kicks, punches, and hand-strikes.

It is important to assess your level of fitness before taking part in a cardio-kickboxing class. Certain physical ailments, such as arthritis or tight hamstrings, might mean that this type of class is not for you. If you decide you are fit enough to attend the class, be sure to give yourself enough time to get used to the moves before doing them full-force. Also, do not lock your arms when punching or kicking or over-extend your kicks because this can lead to problems later on.

SPINNING

Spinning is a cycle-based class that takes riding a stationary bike to a whole new level by adding variety and visualization. This is a great class for people of all fitness levels because, although instructors tell you when to add resistance and what positions to move into, you can go at your own pace and intensity. Different components of the class help to simulate riding through different terrains and situations. For example, “climbing up a hill” can be simulated by adding resistance to your bike while “jumps” are simulated by moving in and out of the saddle in a controlled and smooth manner. Moreover, “sprints” can be done by peddling as fast as you can for about 30 seconds.

Research has shown that, on average, spinning burns about 400-500 calories per 40 minute class. In terms of distance, this same 40-minute workout is equivalent to about 15-20 miles on the road.

ZUMBA

Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance fitness program for people of all fitness levels. Featuring exotic rhythms set to high-level Latin and international beats, it is addictive and exhilarating. Zumba was actually created “on accident” when inventor Alberto “Beto” Perez went to teach an aerobics class and realized he had forgotten the usual music that he used. Improvising, he pulled out some Salsa and Merengue music that he had with him and began teaching the class in a way that allowed the music to move the participants instead of dancing to counts over the music. Dance moves are a mixture of Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton, and Cumbia, and allow for both fat-burning and muscle strengthening

STEP AEROBICS

Step aerobics is a workout where participants do different routines while stepping up and down on a raised platform. Beginners can choose to forgo the step until they become used to the routines that are presented. From there, you can start with one small platform and, as your fitness increases, stack more platforms to make the workout more challenging. Many step classes add other elements into the class such as jumping rope and body sculpting.

When doing Step Aerobics, it is not uncommon for beginners to get confused with the choreography. Do not let this deter you. Instead, do not do any arms movements and instead try to watch the footwork of the instructor and break it down slowly until it becomes clear to you. Step Aerobics is great for getting your heart and lungs in shape as well as toning and improving flexibility and balance. A good instructor will finish the class with calf-stretches. If they do not, make sure to do this on your own.

FITNESS BOOT CAMP

These classes vary depending on who the instructor is, however, you can generally expect to meet outside no matter what the weather is. One hour is usually spent doing some kind of cardio, such as running, hiking, or obstacle courses, along with strength training like using dumbbells or resistance bands. Yoga and/or Pilates are also often incorporated to improve flexibility. According to John Spence Ellis, owner of California-based Orange County Adventure Boot Camp, after one month of attending class five mornings per week people will drop between 5%-6% body fat, lose up to 10 pounds, and reduce their mile time by about 2 minutes.

Fitness Boot Camp classes are often thought to not only be a workout for the body, but also for the mind. It is an intense workout that often reinforces camaraderie as well as positive feedback from peers. For example, if you are not athletically inclined the people around you who are will help you become more athletic and you will be driven by their success. Fitness Boot Camp is meant to be an empowering experience, one that will also get you into fantastic shape.

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