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Alternative Fun Classes

Pound ClassesWe all have our favorite workouts that keep us going to the club regularly. But sometimes motivation can drag a bit, and hitting the snooze button becomes a lame substitute for cranking hard on the pedals in your regular Spinning class. You might avoid a potential workout rut by incorporating variety into your workouts, which can spark motivation and keep you at the gym.

Today, there are an ongoing slew of alternative fun classes. If you haven’t popped in the group ex studio lately, you might be surprised at the wide range of sessions gaining fans. You might just want to skip the yoga session this week and take on a new challenge. Worst case scenario — you don’t like it. And best case? You have yet another way to keep you moving and fit.

While various classes are being introduced all the time, here we examine some of the more established – but still novel – alternative fun classes.

Pound

Drumroll, please. This unique class uses lightly weighted drumsticks, called Ripstix, to turn drumming into a total-body cardio and strength workout, the louder the better. You become part of the music in this fun sweat session. A typical 45-minute class has you completing up to 15,000 reps, 30 extended interval peaks and 70 techniques. And you thought you were just drumming along!

According to the website (www.poundfit.com), Pound classes can improve your rhythm, timing, coordination, agility, musicality and endurance. The site also mentions studies that point to “the powerful brain boosting, stress-relieving effects of drumming,” including “improving focus, increasing higher-level thinking and decision-making skills, boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure and decreasing chronic pain, anxiety and fatigue.”

Find a Pound class using the class locator on the web site, or buy the home DVD with four workouts and your own pair of Ripstix. The Rockout Results system includes five DVDs with nine workouts, a nutrition guide, a fitness journal, recipes, Ripstix and more.

Barre

No longer just for dancers, barre workouts are based on exercises using a ballet barre, such as plies, hip extensions, abductions, calf raises and more. Dance-specific moves include relevés, arabesque attitudes, ronde de jambes, passes and plie port de bras, among others.

Although formats are varied, classes emphasize the lower body and core, with some also adding upper-body work and incorporating accessories such as light weights mini balls and resistance bands.

Barre workouts are based on small movements, isometric contractions, repeated pulses and squeezes to achieve muscle fatigue and failure. Everything is precise, controlled and intentional – with high repetitions to challenge muscles. You won’t get your heart rate up high, but you will experience local muscle fatigue and increased muscular endurance.

Other benefits to barre workouts are greater awareness of posture, improved flexibility and a stronger mind-body connection. Some health clubs and fitness centers offer barre classes, and standalone barre studios are popping up all around the U.S.

BollyX

Perhaps inspired by the phenomenal success of Zumba, the Latin dance fitness sensation, BollyX is a dance workout based on the music and dance of Bollywood, which is the film industry in India. You don’t have to be a dancer to participate – you just need a willingness to learn and have fun.

Designed by fitness professionals and expert choreographers, BollyX offers higher and lower intensity Bhangra dance sequences in 50-minute classes for people of all fitness levels. It follows a HIIT format to maximize caloric expenditure and boost metabolism. For those who prefer more low-impact workouts, BollyXLIT (low-impact training) replaces some of the higher-impact dance moves of the original format.

Devotees of BollyX report that they have so much fun dancing that they forget that they are getting a great workout at the same time. Among the benefits of BollyX are enhanced coordination, greater cardiovascular endurance and better mind-body awareness. According to the web site (www.bollyx.com), more than 400 weekly BollyX classes are currently offered in 30 states at 400 locations nationwide.

Piloxing

An unlikely fusion of boxing and standing Pilates movements, Piloxing has grown to 92 countries. The original format, Piloxing SSP, adds dance to Pilates and boxing intervals to build endurance, balance, coordination and rhythm. The intense Piloxing Knockout format combines boxing, plyometrics, sports conditioning drills and Pilates into a high-energy, 45-minute sweat session suitable for all fitness levels.

Also available is a Piloxing Barre workout, which incorporates barre intervals to the cardio routine for a combined, low-impact cardio-strength regimen. All Piloxing workouts use ½-pound weighted gloves to ramp up intensity in the upper body.

Benefits are improved endurance; greater strength and better balance and posture. Classes and instructors are everywhere, and can be found at www.piloxing.com.

Aqua

Water aerobics isn’t just for your grandma anymore. Check out some of the evolution in the pool:

  1. Cardiowave – Using a unique floating fitness mat, these classes, available in three different levels, challenge stability and balance big-time. You do balance exercises, squats, lunges, plyometrics and agility work on the platform and in the pool. Level II classes add accessories such as medicine balls, resistance bands, fins and more to build strength and endurance. Yoga and Pilates can be performed as well. This is a great way to add fun variety to your fitness routine.
  2. Cycling – So this is essentially Spinning in the water, working against its resistance. The water’s cooling effect may make you think that you’re not sweating, but you will be! Like indoor group cycling land classes, there are various formats, such as interval, endurance, restore and more. You do have to wear a smart swimsuit that stays put, along with aqua sneakers or jelly shoes that some facilities provide. Participants report feeling great after a refreshing ride in the pool. These classes can be harder to find, so do some research to locate one you can try.
  3. Aqua Zumba – Because Zumba has been a runaway success on land, why not dance in the water also? It’s low impact, there is fun music and no one really can see what you’re doing anyway, which may minimize self-consciousness. So get your salsa or merengue on while you keep cool and are kind to your joints in the water!

LaBlast

Described as “a workout in disguise,” LaBlast capitalizes on the renewed interest in ballroom dancing. Created by Louis van Amstel from ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” this partner-free workout incorporates Jive to Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz to Lindy Hop, Tango, Rumba, Quickstep and more, choreographed to a variety of music. Suitable for all fitness levels, these interval workouts work both the body and the mind.

Another style is LaBlast Line Dance, which is comprised of easy-to-learn dances, such as disco, foxtrot, samba, paso doble and more. Also partner-free, it gets you moving so you can show off your moves at the next wedding reception.

And LaBlast Splash takes your dancing shoes to the pool, where you waltz, shake your hips and more through the resistance of water. Combined with fun music from various eras and genres, this definitely is a new take on aqua fitness!

If you can’t find a local class, LaBlast Online includes LaBlast Silk for a gentler workout, and LaBlast Shape for a higher-impact, more advanced routine. Find more details at www.lablastfitness.com.

Have fun with trying one of the above classes to mix up your workout routine!

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