Gyms can be threatening with all of those menacing machines, daunting dumbbells and fitness model members. But a group fitness class can alleviate some of that gym-phobia. In a group atmosphere, you’re not alone. There is encouragement in seeing people of all shapes and sizes exercising together. You need not care about making a fool of yourself because everyone else is doing it too. Plus, injury can be avoided with the help of the instructor, who can model and encourage correct form and execution of exercises.
Fitness classes are also accessible and affordable when compared to personal training packages. Most gyms offer morning and evening classes to fit various schedules. These classes are usually free with a membership, and sometimes class packages are offered without a gym contract.
What group fitness class is best for you? That depends on your fitness goals and personal taste. Typically, gyms offer cardiovascular and sculpting classes, such as step aerobics, cycling, dance, water aerobics, Pilates, yoga and toning. Two of the hottest workout classes being offered in the Anniston area are Zumba and POUND.
In the last 13 years, Zumba has taken the world by storm, popping up in gyms, community centers and churches in 185 countries. Its rhythmic beats, easy dance moves and, of course, the fun factor, make it easy to forget you’re working out. The popular calorie torcher has also become a platform for breast cancer awareness, heart health and childhood obesity. Keep a lookout for the next local Zumbathon, which feature hours of Zumba and numerous instructors, so you can help others while helping yourself. No coordination and previous dance experience necessary — just bring your dancing shoes, water and a smile.
If dance isn’t your thing, head to the Anniston PARD Aquatics and Fitness Center and try POUND. Incorporating the use of special drumsticks called “ripsticks,” this class merges Pilates-style exercise with simulated drumming and an ever-changing, cutting-edge soundtrack.
“POUND is the only workout where you hear your body’s physical exertion,” said the center’s certified instructor, Stephanie Hobbs. “Your movements are expressed in sound. What’s better than having an outlet to hit things while you jam to music?”
According to Hobbs, POUND is a low-impact workout with modifications for everyone — her participants range from age 7 to 79. And according to POUND founders, the hour-long cardio, strengthening and conditioning class can burn between 600 and 900 calories. (Keep in mind, caloric burn is different for all individuals based on heredity, fitness level, physical exertion and other factors.)
The Anniston PARD Aquatics and Fitness Center is currently the only venue in the state of Alabama to offer POUND, but more classes should open soon.
These are only two of the group fitness classes in our area — many others are available. Whatever class you choose, try to attend at least three days a week and add some weight lifting or muscle toning to your regimen to burn even more calories and tone up. This, combined with a balanced diet, should help you reach your fitness goals in 2014.
Heather Ross is an AP English teacher at Gadsden City High School, as well as a certified Zumba and Yoga instructor at Anniston PARD Aquatics and Fitness Center and Jacksonville State University.