A Gal’s Guide To Group Fitness

Regular exercise is all about motivation. All. About. It. It’s more than just getting your butt to the gym. You actually have to induce your heart rate to an above average level and sustain that fervor for a good hour to see the results you’ve long been dreaming of.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I myself am no fitness guru. Sure I pick up a magazine here and there to see what the celebs are doing, and I know how to operate a treadmill, but aside from the obvious, I’m clueless. Sadly ellipticals and stair masters get old quick. But a life without exercise does not yield that bod we all desire.

Enter group fitness. You + a group of other wannabe super athletes + a hot trainer = one hour of sweat inducing exercise sure to have you beach ready in no time. Sure there are some setbacks of exercising in a pack (read: crowded spaces, sweaty bodies, performance pressure) but all in all, I find communal exercise to be more inspiring than anything else. Am exercise class is the one place where vanity can be your best friend.

Here are five group fitness applications to try. I promise, you’ll have more fun burning calories than you ever thought you could. Remember, online deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social offer millions of amazing deals on multiple group fitness classes every single week. Keep a keen eye out!

**A Gal’s Guide To Group Fitness**

Vinyasa. This is my preferred style of yoga which I practice bi-weekly at New York’s own donation-based Yoga To The People studio. Aligning breath and movement, this type of yoga is certainly active. Oscillating between upward dogs and downward dogs, push-ups, and standing postures, you will break a sweat but leave feeling perfectly energized and clear of mind.
Bikram. This 90 minute yoga class is performed in a room heated to 105 degrees and consists of a series of 26 postures repeated 1x through. It’s certainly a physical and mental battle but one that leaves your body refreshed and ready.
Iyengar. This yoga practice centers on strength, flexibility, and endurance by focusing on balance and body alignment. Poses are held for elongated lengths of time promoting both deep stretching and mental clarity.

Pilates is a style of exercise that promotes long, lean muscles, strength, and endurance. Developed by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century, this style of exercise focuses on a strong core as the powerhouse for the rest of the body. What I like most about pilates is the way it challenges my muscles in ways they are not normally pushed. Plus the techniques can be taken back home where they can be practiced alone. I enjoy a cloudy day class at Sixth Street Pilates in Manhattan’s East Village. The teachers here are experts in making every move accessible.

Sometimes I crave some serious sweat-dripping, heart-pumping action. Sometimes I need spin. There is just something addictive about being in a room surrounded by other spinners moving my legs to the beat of the music and the instruction of the trainer. I am both present and somewhere else at once. An hour flies by and I emerge feeling renewed. My favorite venue for practicing indoor cycling is Soul Cycle in Manhattan, where a 45 minute class feels more like a night at the club than a grueling gym session. I also recommend checking in to you university’s gym for possible indoor cycling offerings.

How many of us have dreamed of being as elegant as a ballerina? Long, lean, and sculpted: yes please. Luckily, now you don’t have to be classically trained to practice the fundamentals of the ballet bar. Many stand-alone gyms as well as fitness chains are incorporating bar technique into fitness class routines. I myself enjoy 55 minute classes at Pure Barre or Physique 57 where small isometric movements set to music are used to tone the thighs, sculpt the core, lift the seat, and slim the hips.

Sarah Buchanan is a senior studying History and Creative Writing at NYU. When she is not hard at work on her honors thesis, she is most likely running around the city in search of the best artisan pickles or at home in her apartment sharpening her culinary skills.

Originally posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012

One Response to “A Gal’s Guide To Group Fitness”

  1. Jenny @ BAKE

    May 21st, 2012

    I love group exercise! I just wish the classes I want to do were at times I wanted to do them!

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