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Devoted Spinners, yogis and Zumba dancers or those passionate about another workout rarely stray from their favorite fitness classes. It makes sense; finding the motivation to exercise can be tough, so if you find a workout or an instructor you love, you’re apt to stick with the program.
But a steady diet of one type of exercise isn’t the best strategy, says Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. Instead, by mixing in a few different workouts to complement your go-to, you can avoid burning out, getting bored or stuck in a rut — and you’ll net better results faster. Not sure what to try? Use your existing favorites to guide you to a new one, says Nikki Schultz, group fitness manager at Wicker Park Athletic Club in Chicago.
If you love: Spinning
Try: cardio training classes
Inspired by sport-specific workouts in a way similar to how Spinning is like cycling, cardio training classes may use agility cones, Bosu balls, and focus on functional exercises and lateral movements you’d use when playing sports. This strengthens the stabilizing muscles that don’t get much, if any, love during the continual forward motion of pedaling. And the interval circuits, with their heart-pounding pace, will satisfy the cardio junkie in you while adding a strength component.
If you love: high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Try: pool-based HIIT classes
The short but intense workouts known for whipping you into shape in a jiffy have a water equivalent that gives you the same benefits but is easier on your joints than the sprinting and jumping typical of traditional HIIT classes. In fact, pool-based HIIT is a perfect way for beginners to strengthen muscles before ramping up their routines with more advanced HIIT workouts on solid ground, says Schultz.
If you love: cardio kickboxing
“I’ve found that kickboxers are as intimidated by boxing as our boxers are intimidated by kickboxing,” says Schultz, adding that the two have similar elements and, even better, are complementary. A cardio kickboxing class like muay thai, for example, is cardio intensive and runs nonstop for 55 minutes. Boxing, on the other hand, requires less repetition and uses interval training instead — 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Plus, the high-intensity involved in boxing when you hit mitts or a punching bag conditions the upper body and core in a similar way cardio kickboxing targets the lower half of your body.
If you love: TRX suspension training
Try: aerial yoga
Everything about TRX’s functional training — building mobility and strength using your own body weight — gets a boost from adding stretching and flexibility in aerial yoga. The class uses soft fabric slings to cradle the body and maximizes core strength (something TRX does well) through poses, inversions and other antigravity movements. Plus, the suspension places less stress on vulnerable spots like the back and neck. Schultz says that to begin seeing improvements, the key is to take at least two classes a week to master the poses.
If you love: Zumba
Try: Hip-hop dance
The draw of Zumba is its high-energy, Latin-based, thumping music. Hip-hop fitness classes similarly deliver up-tempo tunes that get you moving and your heart pumping. But unlike Latin dance classes, which usually require you to be light on your feet and more upright, the popping, locking and krumping of hip-hop brings you closer to the ground. “In hip-hop, you utilize your center (of gravity) in a different way,” says Schultz. “You work up and then work down.” That can translate to a firmer butt and thighs since many of the moves stem from a semi-squat position.