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Which Exercise Class Is Actually The Best?


Which Exercise Class Is Actually The Best?

When it comes to getting fit and losing weight, there are so many exercises classes to choose from that it’s easy to be left scratching your head about which one is best for you.

Fortunately, most of them will do you a wealth of good, and research in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health found that regularly doing group exercise helped lower stress and improve cognitive function in women. It seems getting sweaty with friends is a great way to shape up mentally and physically.

However, to fine-tune your approach, we put the most popular and easily accessible exercise classes under the microscope to test their fat-burning, muscle-building and fitness inducing prowess and stole one precious lesson from each so you can use it in your routine today.




You’ll get:

• Improved total-body fitness

• An outlet for your competitive spirit

• Larger and more toned muscles quickly


What is it?

It could be argued that CrossFit isn’t a class, but if you’re in a warehouse sweating through an identical exercise program as everyone else while a trainer watches – it’s a class. Apologies to all the purists.

CrossFit involves doing a mix of gymnastic, strength and intense cardio exercises to condition your body to become good at everything, not just one thing. In just 10 weeks, CrossFit burned 3.7% body fat and saw an 11% increase in participants’ VO2max in a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The end result? A toned, fitter you.


Best part about it

A passion to embrace change. CrossFitters embrace new workouts so their bodies are constantly adapting to a fresh stimulus, building new muscle and burning more calories. Doing new types of exercise is the key to long-term exercise success and avoiding overtraining, found research in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

A steady, fast routine is good, but keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got, so follow the study’s suggestions by revamping your routine every six weeks to optimize your results. Set a reminder in your smartphone if you have to, because change is something you need to pursue aggressively.


Boxing classes


You’ll get:

• Boredom-beating fitness

• Better coordination

• Improved total-body fitness

• A mean right hook when you need it


What is it?

Boxers aren’t the meatheads you might think. In fact, they’re a lot smarter than most because boxing burns a whopping 11 calories every minute and gives your heart an excellent workout, found a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. For those results, it’s well worth embracing your inner Rocky.


Best part about it

Crunch and punch. Use this move from Ian Oliver, author of Boxing Fitness: A Guide to Get Fighting Fit, to strengthen your reflexes, core and legs.

1. Lie on the ground in a crunch position wearing boxing gloves. Have a partner hold a pad over you and punch it 10 times with each hand.

2. Leap to your feet into a squat position, then throw 10 punches at the pads.

3. Stand straight up and throw another 10 punches with each arm. No partner? Use a punch bag.



You’ll get:

• Toned legs

• Improved lung capacity

• A powerful heart geared for longevity


What is it?

It’s not the fast-moving legs, blaring tunes or strip lighting that makes spin class so popular or effective. It’s the varying tempo that nukes calories, because research in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that doing interval training on a bike, the way you would in a spin class, burns fat 36% faster and improves your cardiovascular fitness by 13% compared to plodding along at the same pace. It’s also one of the few group exercise classes that has virtually no impact on your joints, making it ideal for anyone starting out.


Best part about it

You’ll get home wheely fast. You can embrace your inner Tour de France ambitions by turning your ride to work and back home again into a spin class, using the exact work-to-rest ratios from the ground-breaking research previously mentioned.

Cycle for 5-10 minute to warm up, then alternate between 10 sets of four minute bursts of riding at 90% effort and two-minute rest intervals. Finish with a five-minute cool down. You’ll get there and back to the office faster, fitter and leaner.



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You’ll get:

• Dramatically improved core strength

• Full-body flexibility


What is it?

An abs-specific workout that doesn’t just work the showy parts of your tum. Pilates uses several muscles groups (core, glutes, thighs and arms) to stabilize your entire body. Though a mat session might not look sweat-worthy, your muscles are hard at work, and doing it for 12 weeks improves abdominal endurance, flexibility and upper-body muscular stamina, found a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.


Best part of it

The ideal do-anywhere Pilates move is the bridge. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Push your feet into the floor to lift your pelvis toward the ceiling. Hold this for four seconds, then return to the start. Do this for one minute. This will isolate the deep abdominal muscles which hold your stomach in and pull back your shoulders.

Boot camp

You’ll get:

• Encouragement to stick with it thanks teamwork.

• Increased strength while burning fat.


What is it?

You’re mercilessly screamed at while alternating between lugging heavy objects and running to get said objects. Switching between strength and cardio moves like this actually helps you burn 90% more fat and sees an 82% improvement in muscle gains compared to doing strength and cardio work separately, found research at the University of California.


Best part about it

Exercise with a fitter friend because this will improve your motivation and strength endurance, found research at Kansas State University. Once you’ve got a sweat-buddy, do the workout below, which alternates between cardio and strength training so you can cash in on more muscle and less fat.


Find workout inspiration and more in every issue of TRAIN for HER magazine.

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