I started teaching aerobic classes two years ago. Throughout those two years, I have been asked regularly by both males and females how I stay motivated to exercise. My answer is always the same: I’ve found a way to love it. In my opinion, that is the secret to keeping healthy and fit. You have to find a way to have fun and love what you are doing. I can admit that sitting on the couch watching television and stuffing my face with cheesy puffs sounds about 1,000 times more appealing than running on a treadmill while staring at a wall for an hour, but that is why I don’t run on a treadmill.
The first step to finding a successful exercise program is simply to eliminate physical activities that cause you torment. After all, a person still burns calories, even if he doesn’t feel like he’s being tortured. Although a heightened heart rate and sweating are part of exercising, I must stress that the words “fun” and “effective” are not mutually exclusive. Find activities that you enjoy. It sounds clichÃ©d and obvious, but it really can make all the difference. As a proponent of aerobic fitness, I will offer both older and newer forms of group exercise that have proven widely successful.
Indoor cycling is one of the most entertaining, high-energy and intense workouts out there. Imagine walking into a room filled with stationary bicycles. Everyone sets up and starts pedaling, and the atmosphere initially seems pretty laidback. But then the instructor announces it is time to begin. Suddenly, the lights are turned off and the room becomes pitch black, except for one single blacklight and a disco ball. The instructor cranks up the music and you can feel the bass in your chest as you realize what you’re doing is like cycling through a nightclub. This setting is a replica of what takes place at each Spin-It class at the Campus Recreation Center. The best part about this class? It burns between 400 to 700 calories in less than an hour.
Zumba is a great class for anyone who loves to dance. It mixes hip-hop, salsa, merengue, mambo and flamenco, just to name a few, and literally turns interval training into a dance party. Participants dance for 45 to 55 minutes, burning anywhere from 300 to 600 calories depending on the intensity. What makes this class so effective is that most people don’t associate dancing with being in a gym. I’ve heard participants say it is like working out without working out.
While Zumba has only recently become popular, step aerobics has been around for a while, but don’t worry – the spandex shorts and Richard Simmons-bedazzled shirts are long gone.
Step consists of a rectangular box, the height of which can be adjusted up to 10 inches. For just under an hour, participants use the step to climb up and down. Participants learn “step combinations,” which incorporate different body movements, including squatting, jumping and arm lifting. Typically, step is performed to techno music, but can be done to anything with a steady, discernible beat. Since articipants are usually paying so much attention to instruction, the hour is over before they even know it, burning between 400 to 700 calories in the process.
Indoor cycling, Zumba and step are only a few examples of exciting fitness programs offered nowadays. Part of their appeal to fitness enthusiasts and newcomers alike is that group exercises can be extremely motivating and make exercise more bearable. So, if you are one of the millions of people having trouble sticking to an exercise program, my advice is to experiment with different workouts and find the one that actually makes you happy to be at the gym.