How to Take a Fitness Class
|Orange Theory circuit style cardio|
Circuit classes like Orange Theory are ubiquitous in the fitness world. Yoga classes are also everywhere and range in intensity from teaching meditation and balance to intense aerobic power moves. Functional fitness classes involve activities such as running, stairs, and climbing. Cycling or spinning classes continue to evolve and are a great blast of aerobic or cardiac fitness activity. Boxing, treadmill, and rowing classes are also popular.
Unlike the first fitness dance aerobics classes such as Zumba and step classes, most modern-day circuit fitness classes change forms of weights with each exercise. These include stretch bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, bars and balls. Mixing it up keeps you interested and challenged and is less likely to cause a repetitive use injury. Still, whenever weights are added, risk of injury increases due to speed of motion, improper form and too much weight
Strength training classes and adding weights to aerobics class are both likely to continue to gain popularity. To meet the updated exercise recommendations by the CDC to include 2 sessions of moderate to vigorous strength training sessions per week, strength training in classes may take the form of kettlebell swings, box jumps, and squatting, lunging, or walking with weights. Moving with weights and throwing medicine balls are also common exercise techniques. Any of these exercises may increase risk of injury as balance is challenged by the weights, causing twisting moments and off-center joint imbalances of major joints such as the knees, hips, neck and lower back.
Ideally, watch a class before you take it. Ask members if they like the instructor and feel that she or he is someone who is paying attention to the class. Both the music and instructor style should be upbeat and motivating but not so quick you can’t keep up.
As you enter a class for the first time, choose a position you are comfortable in. For a first class I prefer standing in the back so that when I modify the motions to prevent injury I don’t throw anyone else in the class off. Others might prefer a position in the front, closer to the instructor who will hopefully demonstrate and watch for good form. When you choose your equipment, find the lowest weights and resistance bands. This is not wimping out, it’s avoiding injury and overstressed muscles. With repetitions, proper form, and light weights, you will get results! Most classes have much more repetition than you need; 30 is always plenty.
|sample of some classes offered at LA Fitness|
Most importantly, listen to your body. If it hurts, don’t continue. If you are sore more than 2 days later, choose lighter weights next time. And if you have sharp pain that doesn’t resolve with ice or anti-inflammatories over a few days, see your doctor or a physical therapist. Remember, there are so many ways to get fit; a strength training class by 1 instructor can be very different from another’s. Keep searching until you find what thrills you and does not hurt. Happy New Year!