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Beginners Guide to Common Health Club Classes

Joining a health club for the first time can be overwhelming because of the variety of activities. Today’s health clubs offer not only the standard exercise machines, free weights, and sauna/steam rooms with showers, but also a plethora of classes that range in intensity from gentle stretching to full-out cardio training. Read along for a review of the most common classes hosted at health clubs.

The slower-paced classes focus on whole body stretch, which develops an often overlooked aspect to total health: flexibility. Beginning yoga classes will stretch nearly every muscle of the body and improve balance and muscle tone. Advanced yoga classes can be challenging even to the most “buff” person around. The advanced class will focus on stamina, core strength, flexibility, and breathing.

Pilates classes are being incorporated into many gyms, although to get a true pilates workout, there should be a special studio with machines designed specifically for pilates. This type of workout was originally invented for injured persons who can no longer perform an impact style of exercise like aerobics. It is a challenging workout that focuses on core strength and breathing techniques with no impact on the knees.

When “spinning” is on the class schedule, don’t think about whirling dervishes! This is a group stationary bicycle class for cardiovascular health, leg muscle toning, and abdominal core strength.

The two most popular cardio classes in health clubs today are kickboxing and “step.” A kickboxing class will set standard boxing moves to upbeat music. Students must learn the difference between a jab, cross, uppercut, and hook, and be able to combine these punches in various combinations, along with different kicking moves. There is never any sparring or actual contact between two people in these classes.

Finally, a “step” class uses a small plastic riser to simulate a stair step. The basic step class is choreographed with simple repetitive moves on and off the step. The more advanced step class will feature challenging choreography to make it fun while students aim to keep their heartbeats at an elevated level for twenty minutes or more.

With plenty of classes to choose from, and the mystery revealed about what they all mean, now the hardest part about going to the gym is choosing which class will be the most fun for you.