With class timetables expanding rapidly at gyms around the country it’s clear that people love group fitness classes. They are a great way to socialise, make new friends and to workout in a positive, structured and motivating environment. Classes are always supervised by a qualified fitness instructor or Personal Trainer, and if you've done an exercise class before you will realise the difference it makes to your overall experience and effort having a wonderful motivating instructor guide you through the class. This can be of huge benefit to you if you ever have any questions or need a bit more motivation than you get from going to the gym by yourself. However, the downside of a group class is that with large numbers it can be difficult for the instructor to give everyone the attention they need which can result in participants potentially performing exercises unsafely with poor form. This is why I strongly believe in small group classes - they are affordable, fun and friendly with the added bonus of constant attention and support from the Personal Trainer or Fitness Instructor to ensure you get the most possible out of the class.
Despite the main disadvantage of the lack of 1 to 1 attention that you would otherwise get from Personal Training, I believe that classes are a great way to get into fitness and one of the more fun ways to get moving. Many people feel a lot more comfortable in a class setting, and going with a friend can give you lots of confidence and motivation to not only work hard, but also to get to the class in the first place! Whilst PT is obviously the most beneficial workout option for anyone's fitness, this isn't always financially viable for a lot of people, which is where classes can be the perfect alternative.
There are so many different types of fitness classes throughout different gyms, and especially here in Canterbury we have a vast range of options - but which should you do? Even within one gym alone, there can be 10+ different classes, so it's important to know the benefits of each and which is better suited to you. Below, I've created a list of the common ones that are available in Canterbury, either from Personal Training companies such as Sterling Fitness or gyms like Lifestyle Fitness, so you can make your own judgement and perhaps give one a go and try a new class.
Of course the first on my list has to be my own Bootcamp! Running twice weekly outdoors, it's a great all round fitness class with a super friendly bunch of dedicated Bootcampers. Every session is different; one week you might be flipping tractor tyres and the next you may find yourself doing a circuit in teams, we like to keep it fun and light hearted so that everyone of any ability feels welcome, but is also pushed to their max! This style of class is great for everyone as long as you don't mind getting a bit dirty sometimes and working hard. If you'd like more info on our Bootcamps, head over to our Facebook page!
Spin is a high intensity, relatively short workout to music on stationary bikes. Most gyms offer this class as it proves very popular. It's great for getting a sweat on if you really want to work hard and smash out an intense session - some people can burn up to 800 calories in a single spin session, which can really add up if your goal is fat loss. Although a group class, spin is very individual and you will be very focused in your own mind on yourself, rather than working in pairs or teams and interacting with other class members. It is very challenging but be warned - spin is very addictive and you may grow to love it and not be able to stop going back for more!
I would recommend a good Pilates class to absolutely everyone, whether an athlete, young, old, overweight - we can all benefit from this type of class. Pilates is a form of low impact exercise that strengthens muscles whilst improving postural alignment and flexibility by focusing on control rather than repping out exercises to failure. It particularly strengthens your core which is beneficial for balance, posture, mobility and everyday functional ability. Pilates stretches, strengthens, and aligns your body all at the same time, so it also complements every other form of fitness because it prepares your body to move better in every single way. Doing Pilates will help you lift heavier, run faster, swim with better form and just generally perform better.
Body Pump is a class run by many gyms including Lifestyle Fitness in Canterbury which combines a cardio workout with light weights for high reps. The classes follow a set routine to music with light barbells and dumbbells to perform full body exercises. Whilst this can be a great workout if performed correctly, it's really important to be careful when using weights in a group class, especially as a beginner. Poor form with a barbell can easily lead to injury and/or getting little to nothing from the workout. If you are new to lifting weights, even though they are light I would recommend booking a Personal Training session with a qualified trainer before taking part in these classes.
This is again a great class if performed in the right way. A circuits class consists of a number of exercises (usually 8-12) with a small group on each. Once the exercise has been completed for the allotted time, everyone moves on to the next station. This means that you will get a full body workout and there's a huge variety to ensure you won't get bored. The danger with a circuits class is that due to the many different exercises, it is very difficult for one instructor to make sure that each station is being done correctly, so participants could unknowingly be performing exercises wrongly. That being said, if numbers are reasonable and supervision is sufficient, circuits is the perfect all round workout.
All in all, classes are a great way to get fit and have fun at the same time. My final tip when it comes to classes is - it is what you make of it. With the majority of classes, if you put 110% effort in, you will reap the rewards. If you have made it to the class in the first place, you are there for that hour anyway so you may as well give it your all and make the most of it. You get out what you put in!
I hope this has perhaps inspired you to try a new fitness class, and maybe I'll see you at Bootcamp!