Q&A- Choosing an exercise class

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Emma Asks,

” I’m Looking to add an exercise class to my workouts.  How do I know whether a class will be best for me and if its taught properly?”

Great question Emma.  Fitness classes, whether they’re outdoors on a muddy field or in a studio based environment can be a great way to workout.  You’ll often find yourself around like minded individuals which can be priceless when it comes to keeping motivated.  You’re right to ask the question as not all classes are ‘made equally’.  As you haven’t put any specifics down in terms of injury history or any sports specific goals I’ll go for the balanced approach with my recommendations.

So what classes are best?  I would suggest ones that are as varied as possible.  It could be the best, calorie busting, heart stomping routine in the world but if its the same each week you may get bored and your attendance will slide meaning that it is a bad class for you.

Lets assume that you’re after one class to do once a week for at least a few months.  Here’s my quick tips.

  • Duration – If you struggle for time look for a fast paced, short duration class.  Interval based classes like ‘Metafit’ are around 30 mins long but are an intense whole body workout.
  • Content – Hybrid classes are excellent.  Like a spin class that incorporates matt work and upper body exercises or a ‘Boxercise’ class that also features resistance based circuits.  In the short time you’re there you want as much ‘bang for your buck’ as possible so make sure all major muscle groups are hit.  Each class may be different so check with the instructor.
  • The instructor – Let’s elaborate on this more….

There are a few things you can do to suss out the quality of an instructor.  Here’s four pointers for you to follow.

  1. REPS – They are a governing body for fitness and exercise.  Their website will list an instructors qualifications and how frequently they update their knowledge. Here’s a link to the members section: http://members.exerciseregister.org/
  2. Quality not quantity – Aerobics type dance classes can be packed but also have a high turnover.  Ask participants how long they’ve done it for and what they get out of it.
  3. Ask – The instructor is there to help you so any concerns you have, particularly if you have an old/new injury then bring it to their attention.  As it’s one class, once a week you are after ask them what you’ll get from it.  You’re looking for an answer a little like this – ‘general CV fitness (gets your heart rate up), ‘improved upper and lower body strength and toning’, ‘strengthening of postural muscles (core work)’.
  4. Watch – Ask if you can watch the class before you try it or participate, but just take it really easy.  Make sure there’s a warm up, including mobilising joints at the start and a cool down with a good static stretch at the end.

Enjoy! 🙂