Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeping Cardio Fun

                One of the biggest problems we have with keeping up an exercise routine is that it gets boring after a while. If you workout at home you tend to slack off when your 1 workout DVD becomes so familiar to you that you can’t stand to do it anymore. (I now hate Bob Harper after doing the Biggest Loser Cardio Max over and over and over….) The secret to keeping up a cardio routine is to make it fun and change it up!
                You local gym is bound to have aerobics classes you can go to. At 24-Hour Fitness you can find aerobic and step classes, boot camp, dance, cycling, kickboxing, Zumba and more! Gold’s Gym offers similar classes. Many local gyms have various classes you can attend as well, and most gyms offer these classes free of charge (well, besides you membership obviously). Since you’re not dishing out the extra cash to go to these classes, try different ones out to see what you like. The instructors do different routines for all of their classes so even if you go to the same class with the same instructor you will get a different cardio routine each time. They may repeat certain elements but the workout is different. Going to classes like these are really fun and you get a chance to get to know other people in the class and you can even develop a support system to help keep each other on track. Some of the various classes you can take are listed below with a short description of each.

Spinning: Spinning (or cycling) is different than getting on a stationary bike in the cardio room of the gym. The bike is totally different and the workout is much more fun. The instructor will usually teach you the terms they like to use in spinning and how to do the moves (yes, there are different moves in spinning) and then they will guide you step-by-step through the whole workout. The workout is set to music that keeps you on pace (for more on pacing click here) and the music keeps you focused and motivated to kick butt to the end!

Pilates Pulse: I don’t know what kind of pilates you’re use to, but I took a Pilates Pulse class at 24-Hour Fitness and it totally kicked my butt! It was more than toning although you can be sure I was plenty sore afterwards. The moves are done more quickly and the music is more upbeat than relaxing like most pilates classes and it sure had my heart pumping!

Kickboxing: Kickboxing is so much fun. It teaches you self defense while getting a good 
workout. Most gyms offer cardio kickboxing which requires no equipment but some gyms do offer kickboxing classes where you are hitting and kicking a standing bag. I recently tried this and even taught it at the high school level and I had a blast with it. Both ways are fun. You do have some choreographing to keep up with but it’s not like a dance class where you’ll feel completely stupid if you can’t move your body just right.

Zumba: A lot of people I know love Zumba and have become addicted! A lot of gyms are starting to offer these classes now because of its skyrocketing popularity. Zumba is a form of cardio dance that tones and sculpts while you dance. The music is great and the classes are very upbeat and fun.

Step Aerobics: Step aerobics are NOT a thing of the past! Just because you think of calf-covering scrunch socks, belted leotards, and the big hair of the 80s doesn’t mean it’s not a good workout anymore! Many step programs have updates their moves and music to create a fun, challenging workout. I recently taught step aerobics at a high school and we had a blast with it. We used more modern music and more athletic steps and it was great. More and more instructors are moving over to that style and it’s a great workout.

                There are so many more cardio classes out there to try so go try them all! Your local city fitness center usually has a lot of classes to choose from with the cost included in your membership. If you don’t have a membership to you city fitness center, classes are usually a few dollars per class when you go. If you have to work out at home, here are a few tips to help you keep up a fun cardio routine:

1. Have a variety of workouts. I have about 10 different cardio DVDs at home and I like to cycle through them. I went on a Biggest Loser kick for a while, I just finished a 2 month kick with Leslie Sansone’s 5 Day Slim Down, and have since moved on to Turbo Jam (which I LOVE!). As soon as I start to get bored with my video, I change it up and do something different for a while. You can find a lot of great DVDs at the Turbo Fit Store. I recently bought one of Leslie Sansone’s DVDs for $1.49 off the Turbo Fit Store so check it out!

2. Keep it fun! If it’s not fun for you, you’re not going to do it. Don’t go out and buy a cardio dance workout unless you think you’re going to like it. I’m not a dancer but I bought a Dancing with the Stars video and I’ll be honest, I don’t get it out much because I don’t enjoy dancing. If you’re not sure what you like, go to your local city fitness center, pay a few bucks and take various classes to see what type of cardio you enjoy. If you enjoy your workout you’re more likely to stick to it, and you’ll burn more calories simply because you’re really enjoying it and getting into it more than you would with something you didn’t like to do.

3. Ease yourself into it. If you’re not in very good shape right now, start easy and build up. Don’t go out and buy P90X or Insanity until you think you’re ready for it otherwise you’ll quit after your first workout and never go back. Start with low-impact aerobics, something you enjoy doing (remember tip #2) and work your way up the intensity scale. When you’re finally ready, then go out and do the intense, butt-kicking workouts like P90X or Insanity.

                Change it up, keep it fun, and work at your level. Cardio doesn’t have to be this terrible thing you have to do. Find what you like to do and do it! Tell yourself you want to do it. You’ll feel better, look better, and you’ll have the energy to take life on.

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