In our technology-dependent society, people are more sedentary than ever. As a direct result of this lack of physical activity, a variety of serious health problems have begun affecting much of the world. According to the World Health Organization, the lack of physical activity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. It is also the main cause of about 21 to 25 percent of breast and colon cancers, 27 percent of diabetes and approximately 30 percent of ischaemic heart disease cases each year. The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both). This breaks down to 30 minutes a day, five times a week. The term “physical activity” refers to any activity that involves bodily movements such as playing, working and doing house chores. Obviously, it also means exercising, which is a great way to be physically active.
Thanks to large nationwide gyms as well as small boutique gyms, along with fitness centers and studios, exercising is a whole lot cooler and more fun these days. Unique classes are perfect for gym enthusiasts who want a change from the same old bike or treadmill in the gym, as well as novice exercisers who need working out to be fun. What’s more, these fitness classes present a great opportunity to socialize with friends, expand your professional network and enjoy a shared experience with others, while being healthy and fun at the same time. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting fitness classes available today.
AIR: This 50-minute intense aerial fitness training class combines elements of conditioning, Pilates, ballet and high-intensity interval training on aerial hammocks. It is designed to strengthen, lengthen and tone the body.
Box + Flow: It’s all about energy, breathing, movement and music at this 55-minute class that includes shadowboxing and heavy bag work. “Box + Flow challenges participants to dig deeper and search inward to find their fight and then let things flow,” says Liv Young, founder of Box + Flow.
H.I.I.P. Hype: H.I.I.P. Hype alternates between painting and body-weight exercises. The class begins with a 15-minute warm up, followed by 45 minutes of alternating exercise and painting at one-minute intervals and ends with painting presentations.
Hot Hula Fitness: This hula-inspired class set to the sounds of traditional Polynesian drum beats mixed with funky Reggae music provides a total-body workout by helping to increase strength and define the core.
Karaoke Cycling: Offered at Crunch locations nationwide, participants in this class belt out the words to popular songs while cycling.
Mantra Flow: This class takes place at AQUA in TriBeCa in New York City, which features a candlelit pool with state-of-the-art cycling bikes immersed in the water. The Mantra Flow is an aqua-cycling class that incorporates endurance training, meditation and the healing principles of water for a complete mind-body experience.
POUND: Inspired by the energy that goes into playing the drums, this cardio jam session uses lightly weighted drumsticks to provide a full-body workout that combines cardio, conditioning and strength training with yoga and Pilates.
Spynga: Designed to help enhance equilibrium and agility, Spynga is a tandem cycling and yoga class. Participants spend 30 minutes on the bike, and then move to the yoga mat to cool down and balance the body.
Zennis: Visitors to Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain (Paradise Valley, Arizona) can enjoy this yoga/tennis hybrid, which is led by Sanctuary’s tennis pros. It is a movement-based tennis clinic with a Zen component to promote relaxation, proper alignment and fluidity.
This is merely a sample of some of the many great classes available today at larger gyms, as well as small boutique studios nationwide. While each exercise class may present its own particular challenges, these innovative fitness classes provide unique (and effective) ways to get people moving without the dread of going to the gym for the same old stale workout routine. Additionally, these unique approaches to working out have helped attract many new gym-goers, and have helped motivate them to continue to exercise.
That said, whether you’re a gym rat or a fitness greenhorn, it’s important that all participants take the proper precautions to ensure they do not get injured. Margaret Harvey, D.O. with Plancher Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine (Cos Cobb, Connecticut and New York City) provides tips for working out without getting hurt:
- Warm Up: Run in place for a few minutes before stretching or working out to increase the body temperature, heart and blood flow rates, as well as loosen the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.
- Stretch: Start stretching slowly and carefully until reaching a point of tension. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds, and then slowly and carefully release it. Stretching at home each day is recommended to help maintain flexibility.
- Use A Light Touch: Rest hands lightly on the handrails of cardio machines, as clinging to them and being hunched over can cause an improper spine alignment.
- Focus on Muscle Groups: Don’t put too much time and effort into one muscle. A better approach, according to Harvey, is to target more of your arms or shoulders with moves like the chest press or back row. The best exercises are those that work several muscles at the same time.
- Wear Proper Shoes: Not all shoes are created equal. Just because you are wearing a pair of running shoes doesn’t mean that they are good for all exercises. “If they are worn for activities with a lot of side-to-side movement, it can cause the ankle to roll to the side, with the potential for a sprained or even broken ankle,” says Harvey. “Cross-training shoes are a better choice for sports like tennis or step classes."
- Consider Hiring a Professional. Using a machine incorrectly can cause potential injury. "Use the mirrors, if available, to monitor your form and technique," says Harvey. She also advises to consider signing up with a personal trainer, even for just a couple of sessions, to gain some sensible tips for injury-free routines.
We hope these tips make your next and future workouts as much fun as possible. In addition to getting fit, we'll tell you why exercising is a great way to clear your mind, and you try one of the new workouts we listed above, definitely let us know what you think, since we’re always looking for exciting ways to get healthier.
If you prefer more traditional exercises, consider going for a hike! Vacation time? Get some fresh air while exploring the Utah Mighty 5 and take in some wonderful sights!