There are so many types of fitness classes it’s hard to choose what’s best for your body! You pull into the gym, tennis shoes double knotted and you are fired up! You’re excited to kick this new routine into gear! You walk in and take one look at the group fitness schedule and you freeze. Where do you even begin? You just came to workout, but which one?
Group fitness is like a foreign language
Group fitness formats and terminology can be like another language, and I know because I’ve written them! Let’s dive into some classic formats that you can expect to see around most gyms and studios, so that next time you know exactly what class you need to help you smash those goals!
Types of Fitness Classes: HIIT
HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training, is alternating periods of high intensity work with lower intensity work. Sometimes HIIT classes use basic equipment like weights, bands, or just simple bodyweight exercises. Think 40 seconds of squat jumps, to spike that heart rate, followed by a 40 second plank hold. Next, you catch your breath and drop the heart rate. Your high intensity heart rate will be different from the person next to you, which is key for success in HIIT. It might take your neighbor 20 squat jumps to drive that heart rate up, and for you, it may just be air squats- and that’s ok. The good news is HIIT workouts are typically shorter in duration and don’t need to be done everyday to see results.
Types of fitness classes: EPOC
Furthermore, after the HIIT workout you will continue to burn more calories in a process called Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC. You get the most bang for your buck with HIIT training, it’s fun, fast and one of the most effective ways to lose fat. Format examples include Orange Theory Fitness and F45.
Traditional Tabata stands for 20 seconds of very fast-paced work, followed by 10 seconds of recovery time. That time cycle is repeated eight times. If you are doing the math, that’s four minutes of serious work! Next, consider the 2:1 ratio of hard work to rest. There is nothing physically comfortable about Tabata workouts as it’s designed to push your V02 max. Expect to be breathless! One or two rounds with a minute rest in between should be enough to leave you gassed! Perfect for hotel rooms, Tabata is excellent when you’re short on time or to finish off a workout!
Circuit training uses 6-10 different exercises in the same workout to target the entire body. Circuits can be based on time or repetitions. Equipment often used includes free weights, slam balls, and tension bands in the group fitness studio. Circuits are also performed on traditional machines on the gym floor. The idea is to keep rest to a minimum and just keep moving. These types of fitness classes use exercise strategies like EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute, where a set number of reps are completed within the minute). Additionally, you may also hear terms like AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible, when you squeeze in as many reps as you can under time). Lastly, “finishers” where you max out what you can. Format examples: Burn Boot Camp and Camp Gladiator.
Plan to get sweaty using mostly body weight because cardio classes are designed to build cardiovascular endurance. This category includes things like cycle or Zumba. The heart rate is typically higher for the duration of the class. It also can include steady-state cardio with machines on the gym floor like the treadmill or elliptical. Your heart rate stays fairly consistent at that higher level. Cardio can also include HIIT and Tabata intervals as well and is key in promoting heart health. Format examples: Ryde Studio and Cycle Bar.
Strength classes include any kind of heavy lifting class that requires pulling out all of the weights! Strength classes will often be split to target certain areas (Arms & Abs, or Lower Body Lift). These types of fitness classes are a great place to begin your journey with lifting weights and will often be combined in group fitness with cardio. Format example: Crossfit boxes and Les Mills Body Pump.
Barre workouts are considered a low impact, high intensity workout inspired by ballet and sprinkled with serious strength, pilates and flexibility work. In this class, you may use a ballet barre or chair. Other props include small weights (usually 3lbs) for a lot of reps. You may also be encouraged to use a theraband and small ball. No dance experience is required and expect to feel the burn of those small muscles we all forget about. In these types of fitness classes, think squats on tippy toes! Format examples: Pure Barre and Barre3.
Pilates is a low impact workout that will strengthen muscles while improving postural alignment, mobility and flexibility. It was developed as a form of physical therapy for ballet dancers. Pilates incorporates full-body movement from the core (not just abs but the entire midsection) using a deep connection to the breath. Small weights and small soft balls may be used but it’s mostly body weight movement that will help you sit a little better and stand a little taller. This format is traditionally done on the mat laying down in a quiet space. Pilates can also include Pilates Reformer machines and equipment for a greater challenge.
This ancient practice from India involves meditation, movement and deep breathing techniques. Regular practice promotes calmness, strength, flexibility and overall well being and is a fantastic form of stress management. Furthermore, there are several kinds of yoga. The most popular form of yoga being hatha, a gentle intro to all poses. Next is power yoga which is considered athletic. Bikram yoga, also known as hot yoga, uses temps soaring to 105 and 40% humidity. Yin yoga, focuses on holding poses for longer periods of time. Lastly, restorative yoga, which takes 5-6 simple poses using blankets and props to support full relaxation. These types of fitness classes are scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety in regular participants.
How to use these types of fitness classes
A balanced workout plan will incorporate all of these fitness classes. However, it’s most important to find something you love so that you keep doing it and keep showing up. Consistency is everything! Always make sure you tell your instructor you are new and pick their brain on weight selections and modifications for beginners. They are there to help in every way!
If you are ready to engage in a consistent fitness plan designed for your body, complete this form to get connected to a Wellthy Soul Personal Health Advisor this week!