So, awkward question… How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? If your answer is somewhere between “not so great” and “distant memory”, you’re not alone. According to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February. And with the year that was January finally behind us, the clock is ticking. If you’re feeling your enthusiasm for that #TwentyPlenty fitness resolution waning, gym classes are a good way to get back on track.
Find Your Fit
We get it, gym classes can feel helluva intimidating when you’ve never done the class before and maybe aren’t even 100% sure this fitness thing is for you. But get this — gym classes are actually one of the most accessible ways to get into exercise if you’re a beginner. For starters, you don’t really need to know what you’re doing; just follow the instructor. As you get more used to the movements, you’ll start doing them better and you can always ask for help before, during or after class. The best part though, is that after a few classes, you’ll find you start becoming part of the squad — the regulars who all laugh together and support each other. Next thing, you’re not there for the exercise, but to hear what happened on Lebo’s Tinder date. Sound like something worth trying? We asked Ceri Hannan, national product developer at Virgin Active South Africa (and himself a super-experienced group exercise instructor), for the gym classes best suited to beginners. Time to slip on those leggings and hit the studio.
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You say: Oh, hell no! I can’t dance. I’m not going to embarrass myself, stomping left when everyone else is twirling right.
Ceri says: “We all have to start somewhere. Everyone in that class that you’re desperate to join has literally stood in your shoes. Make the first step, commit and you’ll never look back. You’ll literally dance like no one is watching because they’re not! And with many benefits, such as improved aerobic fitness, muscle tone and strength, weight management, stronger bones and a reduced risk of osteoporosis… What’s stopping you from busting a move in Zumba? Or feeling happy in a Hip Hop class?”
Our two cents: There’s no shame in occupying the back row in your gym classes for as long as you need to.
You say: I’m not 100% sure what it is, but it sounds hard.
Ceri says: “Pilates may sound intimidating, but it’s an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. You can start off in a mat-based class where class numbers are generally limited to ensure that your instructor can give you the attention you deserve.”
Our two cents: It’s highly scaleable and you do things slowly, with special focus on breathing and correct form. So it’s perfect for beginners. And if you’re looking to build muscle in your tummy and bum, you’ve come to the right place. We think everyone should do Pilates.
Weight-Based Gym Classes
You say: And start looking like a man? No thanks. Nope, nope, nope.
Ceri says: “I’m going to let you into a little secret — weight training doesn’t give you bulky muscles! What it does give you? Decreased risk of osteoporosis, improved posture, a reduction in back pain and increased strength (without bulking). Women simply don’t have the testosterone to build muscle like men. Women have 10 to 30 times less testosterone than men and have a much harder time gaining size from strength training. Instead, women develop muscle definition and strength without the size. Try gym classes like Shape, Body Conditioning or Pump where you can literally choose the weights that suit your level of fitness. That’s the great thing about resistance-based gym classes:
- They’re generally non-choreographed (so no fear of going left as the rest of the class goes right)
- Everyone does the same exercise at the same time
- You’re encouraged to select your own weights so you don’t need to feel pressure to go heavier than you feel comfortable with.
Our two cents: Start with the baby weights and learn the moves. After a few classes, when you know what you’re doing and notice all those new sexy muscles starting to appear, you’ll actually want to start attempting heavier loads. Promise!
Look what went down at Fit Night Out Cape Town last year…