Most of the work undertaken in the name of fitness, particularly in the gym, can be categorised as either resistance or aerobic. Resistance workouts involve the movement of weight and utilise free weights, resistance machines and also bodyweight in some cases. Repetitions and sets are completed with the intention of inducing hypertrophy, gaining strength and generally improving the body’s ability to perform. Aerobic training, on the other hand, tends to be of a longer duration and works the cardiovascular system resulting in improved stamina and increasing the ability to perform for longer, and may include activities on the gym floor such as stationary cycling, rowing, or using the treadmill, cross trainer or stepper. As with resistance exercise, an aerobic workout will help to improve body composition and general wellbeing.
The word aerobic is also synonymous with classes or group exercise, and these activities can be found not only in gyms and specialist studios, but also in village halls, local parks and even in front rooms with video instruction. So what makes these classes so popular and what are the benefits?
For years it was only the ladies who took aerobics classes whilst the men grunted and groaned lifting weights, but whilst that is no longer the case with the introduction of more ‘unisex’ classes and men realising the importance of cardiovascular fitness, a lot of women still prefer classes to the more traditional gym work. Whilst most modern gyms are not as intimidating as in days gone by, the class still provides a certain level of anonymity with much less chance of intimidation which people of both genders may find appealing. A certain amount of comradery often develops between regular users of a particular class, and the social aspect certainly cannot be discounted. Friendly competition can occur or simply just ‘keeping up’ can improve motivation and application, whilst a good instructor can do wonders for getting the most out of a participant. Add to this the huge variety of classes available and even the variety within a session and it becomes clear why aerobics and group exercise remains popular as ever. From boot camps to Zumba, circuits to Body Pump, there is a class to suit every individual at every level of fitness which will help to maintain motivation, achieve goals and work those still too nervous to use the gym.
Whilst the leg warmers have long disappeared, the music and style of classes changed and Jane Fonda been replaced by Davina McCall, classes show no sign of losing their appeal and whilst many may come and go, new methods of group exercise continue to appear bringing fitness to many without a dumbbell in sight.
Train hard and give a class a go…. you might just like it!