As we've mentioned already, the body can quickly develop a virtual callous to consistent kinds of exercise. Besides finding new routines, another way to keep your body from falling into a routine, Gonzalo Garcia says, is to take classes. Any number of classes can build endurance. He adds, “Classes are great for tricking the body, and that creates muscle when your body has adapted to everything else” (although bodybuilders who cherish their bulk shouldn’t make a habit of attending classes).
Which Classes to Consider
“Nobody teaches step classes anymore, because they’re too high-impact,” Garcia says. The founder of Full Throttle Fitness NYC is no lover of fad classes like belly dancing, either.
Instead, he recommends “athletically based classes that focus on strength training and endurance.” His Evolve class at Manhattan Plaza Health Club is one example, and he is developing a boot camp that incorporates spinning to that same effect. Garcia also finds people gravitating more and more to boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Yoga and Pilates classes, meanwhile, help develop muscle endurance and flexibility. Pilates does a particularly good job of focusing the mind, too: After a few lessons on the mat or Reformer, you may find yourself back on the gym floor with a greater ability to focus on a specific muscle rather than simply going through the motions.
Keep a Lookout
Just because your gym offers a class doesn't mean you should take it. Garcia is particularly leery of boxing classes and their kin, since some of these teachers may only be enthusiasts, not trained instructors. Personal injury could result. His first rule for joining a class, then, is to ask whether your teachers are educated as such -- fighters or coaches, in the case of boxing.
Another method for discerning a good teacher from a less practiced one is to observe them in the minutes prior to class. Does the instructor know regulars’ names? Does he introduce himself to newbies and inquire about preexisting injuries and other conditions? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, you may want to take a second look at the class schedule.
And what if a room seems too crowded with exercisers already? The smart instructor will edit that day’s workout so that it underscores strength training, which requires less space. An even smarter instructor will keep attendance from surpassing a given number to begin with.