A blog by runners. For runners.

8 popular group fitness classes, demystified

You may have joined a gym for the first time in 2015 and now you’re looking to maximize your experience by taking a group fitness class. Good for you!

But some of those class titles can look like a foreign language, and the descriptions can scare you away from even setting foot inside.

Relax! Below we demystify some of the more common fitness classes and give you a peek inside so you know what to expect.

1. Yoga
If you checked out our new eBook, Yoga for Runners, you know by now yoga is a phenomenal component to any training program. You’ll stretch your body and tone your muscles by going through different sequences, and gain better awareness of your body and connectedness with your breath.

2. Pilates
Pilates mat classes require very little equipment besides, well, a mat. Experienced yogis might recognize some of the movements from their sequences, but the focus here is much more on the core muscles. Expect to perform a lot of small core moves (the kind runners often ignore) that get your body shaking.

3. Barre
Barre incorporates yoga, Pilates, and ballet moves into one convenient package. Some classes work with an actual ballet bar, while others require no equipment. You’ll find your internal grace and fluidity all while toning and shaping your entire body. Oh and be prepared to let those muscles shake!

4. Body Pump
Get ready to sweat! The bulk of the class uses light to moderate weights with a lot of repetition and movement. This approach gets your heart rate up and your body working stabilizing muscles that just don’t get challenged with stationary strength work.

5. Body bootcamp
Gyms tend to have varied boot camp type classes, so it’s hard to describe them all. The root is body weight workouts in rapid sequence. Or they might be called drills more specifically. It’s this kind of intense total body workout that gets your muscles burning calories for hours after you’ve showered. Take the class – and any group class, for that matter – at your own pace.

6. Group cycling
Spinning or group cycling involves a manually powdered stationary bike. The goal isn’t necessarily to crank your resistance to the highest level. Instead, you get your pulse racing by increasing your cadence – the rate at which you pedal and propel yourself along your imaginary journey. You’ll do both standing and sitting moves on the bike, which might feel strange at first but becomes second nature.

7. Zumba
Latin American dance inspired the Zumba craze that swept the nation starting in the 1990s and continues to be extremely popular today. Why? Well, it’s basically dancing for exercise. You can forget yourself and just enjoy the rhythm and the movement. Plus, you’ll learn some real life dancing moves like the mambo, cha cha cha, salsa, and more.

8. Cardio kickboxing
Punch, kick, and blow your way through your first kickboxing class. The instructor will lead you on a powerful journey that can transform your body using a blend of martial arts, boxing and dance moves. Many classes also utilize traditional equipment like punching bags and training pads. Overall, you’ll work your strength and endurance to new levels, which can ultimately improve your running.

Of course, your gym’s specific class may look similar or quite different from the samples we provided. That’s why the best way to find out about an activity that interests you is by asking around and trying it for yourself. More often than not, that discomfort you feel will melt away in the first five minutes. And if you’re particularly nervous – try bringing a friend!

What’s your favorite group fitness class?

Written by Ashley Marcin.

RELATED check out all articles in our Demystifying the Gym series