I believe that a body in motion stays in motion.
Unfortunately, I believe this is true for other people. Me? I’m a person who doesn’t remain on the move naturally. I have to fight like hell to run, exercise, and do whatever it takes to balance my natural inclination to binge eat potato chips for breakfast.
Since I have to exercise, everybody should benefit from my efforts. Let me tell you about some fitness classes, and you can skip anything that doesn’t sound fun.
Pro-tip: much of this isn’t fun.
I’ve been doing Pilates for over six years. It’s fun, and I always learn something new. You don’t burn a ton of calories, but you burn more than in yoga. If you want to try Pilates, heed my advice: don’t do a DVD. That’s the hardest way to start because your form is wrong, you incorrectly use your body weight, and you miss out on the equipment — the best part. Go find a level-one Pilates class and tell the instructor, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
Pro-tip: Pilates is all about alignment and breathing and using your core. Even though you might not love your body or your curves, you should wear clothes that will allow your instructor to see your posture and your tummy. Trust me, nobody is judging you.
I can’t sit criss-cross applesauce because my hips are too tight. I’ve learned that a good yoga class will help me breathe and relieve tension in the places that bother me the most. I’m not getting ripped and building muscle, but I can’t blame yoga. My potato chip diet doesn’t help. I always ignore the spiritual teachings because nobody is gaining enlightenment at 6:30 PM on a Tuesday night in Durham, NC. And I stick with the gentle and restorative yoga classes that allow for a little more 1:1 time with the instructor.
Pro-tip: Don’t eat a heavy meal before class. It’s hard to move freely and comfortably when your belly is full. Or maybe that’s just me.
Do you like loud music and people yelling at you? If you do, spinning is for you. My favorite spin class is hosted by SoulCycle. You don’t need much to start. You rent bike shoes, show up looking like a shlub, and the instructor shouts at you like Billy Eichner and tells you that you’re gorgeous and fabulous. Honestly, it’s the best. We don’t have SoulCycle in Raleigh, but we have a FlyWheel. It’s not the same. It’s less inspirational and more process-focused, which means that the instructor is constantly talking about torque and RPMs and a bunch of stuff that gets me out of the zone. But I burn 500 calories in a spin class, so it’s worth the hassle.
Pro-tip: Spin clubs are popping up all over America. Never pay for the first class if you can avoid it. Don’t buy a fancy heart rate monitor, either. And get used to the hard seats — that’s the fun of walking side-to-side!
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
If you enjoy the feeling of a heart attack while burning about 500 calories a class, let me recommend high-intensity interval training. Every HIIT studio has a unique take on the process, but all classes will make you sweat. Some studios have treadmills and rowing machines. Others add weights and TRX stations. The goal is to do a lot of different exercises, and the instructors love to mix it up. Give yourself a couple of sessions before you decide that you hate it.
Pro-tip: I liked Orange Theory in theory, but the franchise is very sales-oriented. They are friendly people, but I just don’t like that aggressive style. Also, the studio is dimly lit with an orange light. I believe in a commitment to the brand, but it’s hard to see where you’re walking on the equipment floor!
Finally, let’s wrap up with boxing. I’ve taken quite a few lessons, and the thing about boxing is that you’ll suck for a long time before you’re any good. Boxing burns calories, sure, but most people have bad form. And holding up your arms and dancing around a punching bag isn’t realistic unless you do cardio and weights, too.
Pro-tip: Try a boxing class for free before you buy a membership. Also, think about paying for a private session to learn about the correct boxing techniques.
Most exercise isn’t fun, but I hope my experiences help you figure out whether or not a certain activity is right for you. Personally, my preferred form of exercise is still running. I’m not very fast — and it’s hard for me to get out of my head — but nobody is talking to me or trying to sell me anything.
Hassle-free exercise? That’s all I want!