t’s almost that time of year again. Every year, when twelve months of hardship have nearly passed, we all look ahead to the coming year and think, “This is the year I’m gonna get it right.” We make promises to ourselves, promises that we’ll commit to something healthy for us. It’s a way for us to proactively make our lives better. When the new year rolls around, however, most of us don’t actually stick to our goals for more than a month--two if we’re doing really well. So what gives?
Before you jump into any new fitness routine, we recommend doing some research. The best way to know whether you’re really going to stick with a new exercise class before you spend all the money on it is to determine if it’s the right fit for you. Consider the different things that might impact your willingness to continue participating in various activities, such as time commitments, costs, and even the kind of energy you’ll need to do them.
Here at Adultist, our goal is to give you the basics of some of the most popular exercise classes--yoga, kickboxing, and cycling--to help you determine if they might have an impact on your life. After that, it’s up to you to do a little more research and sign up for the class if you think it might be a good fit for you.
Rules for Any Exercise Class
- Bring a water bottle. Hydration is important no matter what kind of exercise you’re doing. If you’re exercising and exercising vigorously, that means you’re probably also going to sweating--which means you’ll be losing a good volume of the water that makes up your body. If you want to replenish your energy, you need to keep drinking water.
- Go at your own pace. The best way to get the most out of your exercise class is to make sure that you are neither overexerting yourself nor failing to challenge yourself enough. The amount of energy you put into any exercise will be greatly dependent on just how much experience you already have with that exercise. If you’re new to it, make sure you’re only pushing yourself as much as you’re comfortable. In most cases, your body will let you know how far it’s willing to go.
- It’s okay to be a beginner. Oftentimes, when we jump into a new form of fitness, we think we need to be able to match the same energy and intensity as the people who have been practicing this exercise for much longer than we have. But just like you, they were probably also once a beginner. Everybody has to start somewhere, so if you need to start at the bottom and work your way up to something more intense, that’s perfectly okay (and even normal).
- Have fun. More than anything, you should be excited to go to your exercise class. When it comes to implementing a new exercise routine, the most important thing to remember is that you have to want to do it. If you don’t enjoy the exercise itself, the rest--finding the will to leave the house to do it, as well as actually sticking to it--becomes infinitely more difficult.
Yoga is by far one of the lower energy exercise classes that have taken off in more recent years--but that doesn’t mean it’s any less work. Typically combined with some form of meditation exercises as well as physical ones, yoga is a great way to exercise both your mind and body.
What to Expect
Depending on your needs and which instructor you join, your first experience with yoga could be a bit overwhelming. Most yogis play atmospheric music to go along with their classes, and some even use incense as well. It can cause some sensory overload--especially if you’re just starting out and still trying to learn the basic moves and positions--but if you think you’re up for the challenge, it can be incredibly rewarding.
Yoga works your entire body, from your head all the way down to your toes. It’s an exercise of strength, endurance, and all the muscles you never even knew you had. Most yoga classes take place entirely on the floor, which is why most people use yoga mats throughout the class. They offer a thin cushion between your body and the floor so you aren’t too sore by the end of the class.
How to Prepare
We recommend bringing your own yoga mat if you can get your hands on one. You can usually get a fairly decent one for $10-$20, and having one means that you won’t have to use one of the communal ones that your yoga studio offers for anyone to use. It’ll also mean that you can take your mat home and practice your new yoga knowledge there if you have some extra time during the week.
We also recommend finding a good chunk of time you can set aside to go to a yoga class because they tend to run long. Most classes will only take place once or twice a week, but even so, they’ll usually last anywhere from half an hour to two hours. If you want the full experience of the warmup, routine, and cool down, you’ll want to make sure you can set aside that time.
Kickboxing is one of the higher energy exercise classes that has grown in popularity in recent years. Its high intensity can rival even the most vigorous cardio routine, but there might be just enough variation in the routine to keep you interested.
What to Expect
Kickboxing classes usually take place in either a martial arts studio or just a regular gym. Some places may use boxing bags, which means you’ll need to get a pair of special boxing gloves or hand wraps to protect your hands. Other studios may have you face off against other people--in which case you’ll need to prepare for actually having to hit other people, and being hit in return.
As a high-intensity form of exercise, kickboxing also works your entire body. You’ll probably feel the next day aches and pains in different places, though. Kicking and punching is something to be expected, and in high volumes, so be prepared to sweat. Compared to the more meditative practices of yoga, you’ll probably be exhausted by the end of a kickboxing class.
How to Prepare
We recommend you become proficient in stretching before you sign up for a kickboxing class. You’re going to be exercising a lot of muscles that you probably aren’t used to using, and the very intensity of kickboxing probably isn’t going to allow you as much freedom for controlling just how much of a stretch you’re getting. If possible, you should also get your hands on your own kickboxing equipment if you can. At the very least, it will help you to be able to exercise at home once you learn the basics.
Indoor Cycling Classes
Indoor cycling is another kind of intense workout, but it works a bit differently to how kickboxing might. In a way, it’s a little like a mix between yoga and kickboxing in terms of intensity. You will sweat during a cycling class--and a lot--but you will also be stationary for most of the session.
What to Expect
Indoor cycling--the most popular of which is currently SoulCycling--is a high-intensity exercise class in which you sit on a stationary bike, listen to upbeat music, and cycle at the highest intensity you can manage for around an hour each class. You can expect your legs to burn for most of it and to feel like jelly afterwards, and to sweat more than a few buckets.
How to Prepare
Make sure you’ve stretched more than you think you need to before you go to you first indoor cycling class, before you go to any indoor cycling class, really. Using your legs in such a high-intensity workout for such a long period of time is going to hurt, but it’ll hurt a lot less if your muscles are feeling loose before you go into your class.
Practice your floor stretches and standing stretches, and try to remember to give your back the proper care it needs as well. You’ll most likely be hunched over for most of the time you’re on the bike, so take care of your back.
Think carefully about what you need. You might have a lot of pent up energy at the end of the work week--which would put you in good standing for one of these high-intensity classes. If you’re someone who wants a workout that doesn’t necessarily feel like a workout, though, yoga might be the right fit for you.
No matter how you’re thinking of getting into shape in the upcoming year, make sure you do your research before you start making any commitments to new exercise routines. Exercise classes are going to be hard work no matter what you decide to try, but knowing what you’re in for will ensure that your experience is the best it can possibly be.