If you’re looking to lose weight and you’re a member at a gym, then you’ll probably be considering starting one of their classes. Classes are a great way to lose weight because they encourage you to keep training and give you a little more social incentive not to skip sessions. At the same time, training in classes means you get walked through the different types of exercise so that you don’t get stuck for inspiration.
But the question is: which class should you join? With so many fancy-sounding exercise classes, how do you decide which one is going to be the most effective for you? Below we’ll go over some of the more popular options and hopefully that will help you to make the right decision.
Most gyms will offer some form of yoga which is great if you want to improve flexibility, strengthen your core and learn better control over your own body. Unfortunately though, yoga isn’t so great for losing weight. This is something I have told friends repeatedly but they seldom believe.
Yes, yoga is challenging, and yes it does get you a little out of breath… Unfortunately though, it is also not particularly ‘intense’ in a cardiovascular sense or in terms of resistance. It doesn’t burn that many calories in a session and more importantly it doesn’t stimulate your body to increase fat burning itself.
Yoga is great for some things, but if you want to burn fat, you’re better off looking elsewhere. The same is also true of Pilates and Tai Chi.
Now we’re talking. Spin class is a very intense way to work out and the best classes will burn a lot of calories. Better yet, because they also offer resistance (in the form of bike settings), spin classes are great for building muscle in your legs. When you combine this intense cardio with the heavy resistance, what you get is a strong hormone response meaning your body releases lots of growth hormone and testosterone. This in turn leads to more fat burning throughout the day even when you aren’t actually exercising.
The best spin classes will be designed in order to incorporate HIIT. This stands for ‘High Intensity Interval Training’, and it basically means that you’re alternating periods of intense exertion with periods of relative calm and ‘active rest’. This way you can get your heart rate up higher and you trigger even more of a hormonal response.
When done right, spin classes are one of the most effective ways to burn calories and tone your lower half. The only limitations are that a) they don’t do much in terms of resistance for your arms (meaning you won’t get that toned look, even though they might get slimmer) and b) they can be hard on beginners or easier for the advanced seeing as everyone does the same (though you can increase the resistance on the bike).
Zumba Dance Workout
Zumba is a type of dance that apparently lends itself very well to workouts. The idea is that you get to dance and have fun while at the same time burning calories and toning your body – what’s not to like?
In reality, Zumba will burn quite a few calories, though certainly not as many as a spin class. At the same time, Zumba is also very good for your coordination and it is fun, which means that you will be more likely to stick to it.
If you’re looking to make a big dent in your weight quickly though, you’re much better off with a spin class. And like spinning, Zumba also isn’t particularly good for your arms or for progression.
Boxercise is similar to Zumba and other dance-workouts in that it keeps you moving and burns a satisfactory number of calories but isn’t as intense as it could be. On the plus side, this will potentially help to tone your triceps and shoulders if you go several times a week, it’s just unfortunate that it’s not quite as intensive as spinning. Likewise, like Zumba, boxercise is a form of ‘steady state’ cardio and doesn’t tend to incorporate the superior HIIT approach. Again, if spinning is on the menu, that’s the better choice.
Aqua aerobics is basically a little like a Zumba dance class or a boxercise class except it’s practiced while submerged in water. What this means, is that you’ll be performing all the movements against the resistance provided by the water – and often while treading water. This is low impact which is great for those who have joint problems and it’s also great for providing your whole body with toning thanks to the way the water provides resistance.
The intensity of aqua aerobics classes varies, but generally they tend to be gentler and aimed at those who do have joint problems or who are perhaps pregnant/recent mothers etc. Likewise, the resistance of the water means you won’t tend to move that fast and that in turn means you possibly won’t burn all that much fat. The most cardio-intensive part of an aqua aerobics is treading water, and if you want to make an aqua aerobics class more intensive, then you can always tread water while doing the other movements.
Nevertheless, this is still an option that’s only really optimal for those looking for low impact exercise (though spin classes are low impact and don’t even have to be weight-bearing if you can use recumbent bikes). The best way to lose weight in the pool is just to swim (which coincidentally is one of the very best ways to lose weight and tone muscle).
So far spin class is the winner, but if there’s one type of exercise class that gives spinning a run (or ride) for its money, it would have to be circuits. Circuit training means moving from station to station and running between each one. Then, once at each station, you’ll be tasked with skipping, curling resistance bands, doing tuck jumps, doing press ups and more.
For many reasons, circuits are one of the best types of exercise for losing weight. Like spinning, circuits involves resistance training as well as cardio, meaning that you’ll be triggering a hormone response. Unlike spinning though, this resistance training affects your entire body thus aiding with toning in all areas as well.
Circuits is also great because its very nature means it is a form of HIIT, allowing you to raise your heart rate more and reach anaerobic types of training. Better yet, circuits allows you to progress as you’ll be able to try and push out more repetitions at each station. Beginners can train slowly if they prefer, whereas those who are used to the classes can really push themselves. The only downside of this is that it is possible to ‘coast’ if you aren’t the motivated type.
So there you have it: if you want to lose weight and tone your body, then spin class or circuits are the best options. Aqua aerobics or yoga are useful if you are elderly or struggle with joint problems, while Zumba is perhaps the most ‘fun’ if you struggle with motivation. But the best way to know for sure what works? That’s to try them all and make your own mind up!