With the Lunar New Year fast on your heels (Can you hear the sound of tubs of pineapple tarts being opened? The crunch of your favourite kerupuk? Because I can!), you and I both know it’s time to double down on exercise to make up for all those snacks — especially if you’ve made a fitness resolution for 2020. “But exercising is so hard!” you say. Okay, going to a gym can be daunting, I get it. And if you’re like me, jogging around the neighbourhood (though basically free) is the. literal. worst. Well, fret not, for there is such a thing as group workout classes to help you sweat off all that New Year Feasting!
I love group classes because every class is different. Each class feels like a community of its own and most importantly, I’ve never been to a group class that wasn’t fun, I swear! Who doesn’t love to get fit while having fun and potentially making new friends? Plus there’s an instructor to guide you, which is why group classes are great for people of all fitness levels.
That said, there are A LOT of classes to choose from (although this means there is literally a class out there for everyone). So here’s a quick and nifty guide to help you decide where you can start.
*Pro tip: A lot of these places have intro packs at majorly reduced prices and some even have free trials! Alternatively, studio passes like Class Pass also allow you the freedom to try all kinds of classes (they have free trials too).
1. If You Want A Different Kind Of Cardio: Trampoline Fitness Classes
What it is: These are rhythm based classes where everyone is allocated a mini trampoline as the instructors lead you through each song. Side to side jumps, star jumps, jump kicks… all kinds of jumps that target different parts of your body, all to the beat of the music. Many studios also incorporate weights and a toning session at the end of each class.
Why it’s good: Bounce is an awesome low-impact workout because the trampoline absorbs most of the impact. For those with weak joints and knees who can’t engage in heavy jumping exercises (or plyometrics, in fitness terms), bounce is a great way to get that high intensity cardio (with zero running, hurray!).
2. If You Want To Dance But Not Really: Barre Classes
(Have you ever been to the ballet, or seen a ballerina on So You Think You Can Dance and thought, “Wow, ballerinas look so toned and strong!” Well, it’s because they ARE. Ballet itself is a heck of a workout! Now cue barre, which I like to think of as ballet, but accessible to dance-impaired people like me.)
What it is: Barre is a workout that is like the lovechild of ballet, pilates and yoga. While barre classes vary from studio to studio, most involve a – you guessed it – barre, and some form of resistance. Light hand weights, resistance bands, or even both. Barre incorporates ballet moves such as plies, tondus, relevés (don’t worry, the instructor will teach you the right form), alongside many reps of isometric movements.
Why it’s good: Isometric movements are isolated, small range movements that work on specific muscles that are often not worked on enough. These are great for building stability and maintaining muscle strength in focused areas. TLDR; barre really helps you concentrate and engage specific muscle groups. It might not look like much, but you will feel it. All in all, barre is a great work out to help you get toned and build strength, while being low-impact. (Psst! Many studios even have modified classes for pre or post-natal clients.)
3. If You Want To Let It All Out: Boxing Classes
What it is: In these classes, you’re assigned a punching bag and a free weight station. The classes are then organised into rounds, varying between boxing rounds and rounds where you do some body weight/strength exercises. The instructor will teach you the 6 basic punches (jab, cross, front and back hooks, front and back uppercuts) and in each boxing round, will guide you through a sequence of different punches for you to throw out.
Why it’s good: I love going to boxing classes to just let it all out. These aren’t martial arts classes, and they don’t involve a boxing ring. Instead, it’s you, some free weights and a punching bag. So you can still get that Rocky Balboa feeling without having to actually get punched in the face. At the end of it, what you get is an amazing cardio and resistance workout with strength and conditioning elements. Swinging your arms around on that punching bag is one heck of an upper body workout!
Where to find them: Some studios that offer boxing fitness include Uppercut Boxing, Box Office Fitness, Ground Zero and BoOm. Boxing gloves are available at the studios, so all you need to bring are your own hand wraps.
4. If You Want A No Frills Workout: Functional Fitness Classes
What it is: Many trendy studios throw around this buzz term. But what is a functional fitness workout? In a nutshell, functional fitness classes are formulated for a purpose — to improve our daily movement patterns (by strengthening, conditioning etc.). Think walking, squatting, picking stuff up, or even sports you might play on your own. This is why many functional fitness classes emphasise on exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups – movements that aren’t too far off from actions we do in our daily lives, as well as involve free weights instead of machines.
Why it’s good: These exercises are what we call compound exercises i.e. they work many large and small muscle groups at once (total bang for your buck!). Different studios vary in how they do it, but many functional fitness classes are built as HIIT, circuit training classes. While functional fitness classes can certainly look intimidating to someone new to fitness, I encourage you to give them a go. Remember, you can always go at your own pace and move at intensities that you’re comfortable with. Also I swear, these classes are fun and the whole workout will be over before you know it!
It can be tough getting started on your fitness journeys, but remember that the first step is always the hardest. When you see yourself getting stronger and fitter, you’ll be itching to get moving. Hopefully, this guide will motivate you to sign up for something and kick start (or change up) your fitness journey. Tell us what you’re doing to stay fit and healthy in the comments below!