Category Archives: fitness

Choosing an exercise class



The last few weeks I have been hitting the gym regularly.  Not the treadmill, cross trainer and weights part of the gym, but the exercise class part of the gym. And I have been loving it.

It can be intimidating to be with a group of fit people doing a class that often you have no idea of what is going on and how you do it.  Well that was what I thought.  But I blundered in nevertheless and just thought I’d give them a try. And unsurprisingly I found all the people warm, friendly and encouraging.

So how can you decide on what class to try? Is it for you?  Well these pointers might give you the confidence to try.

  • What do you want to achieve with your class?  Is it to improve your fitness level, lose weight, have fun, have an hour’s relaxation or tone your body?  Decide what you want from your class and then find a class that best matches it.  There should be a description of the class on a leaflet or poster or try googling it (I know, I know, when in doubt…)


  • Think about your likes and dislikes.  If you are petrified of the water, aqua aerobics is not for you.  If you have always enjoyed boxing, maybe body combat is.


  • Try to be realistic about your fitness level when matching to a class.  If you haven’t exercised in years going to “a killer abs session that is so tough your ironing board stomach will weep” might not be a good move.  It’ll put you off. Exercising and ironing.


  • If you are not tied to a gym then try a selection of class providers to find one that suits you.  Classes do have different atmospheres and it could be that you prefer the relaxed zumba class in the school hall to the more formal one at the health club.


  • Try a selection of classes.  Don’t be afraid to try new ones.  But I would suggest, unless you had a shocking experience, to give each a couple of weeks.  As you know I didn’t enjoy my second zumba class and was going to give it up, but tried it again and am now appreciating it.


  • If you find a class you like rebook it ASAP.  There is nothing like knowing it is all booked up for you.  No excuses then!  Classes and gyms vary but I love the fact that as I go for one class I can book my class for the next week.  After all it would be a hassle to ring up and cancel-may as well go to the class!


  • When you are in the classes, don’t forget to smile!  Seriously, a smile, nod or a laugh can help break the ice with many people.  It also helps to build up morale as well as seeing everyone’s human side. I promise you most people have them.


If you are going to take the plunge, good luck.  Honestly, I am really enjoying my classes, and at the end feel really satisfied and fulfilled by them.  With the running and healthy eating, it is making such a difference, and I am so pleased I plucked up courage to give them a try.


All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon


Singing the praises of group training



I admit I do like to run on my own.  I can go when I like (usually early morning), where I like (very unadventurous courses where I live), and can plug myself into my I-phone and while away the time listening to my parkrun or Marathon talk podcasts.

And going to the gym, again I do by myself…mainly because I don’t know anyone else who goes to my gym.  But when it comes to group exercise, I am a massive fan!

There have been numerous studies telling us that exercising/losing weight with a buddy or family member helps.  But for many of us it may not be practical.  But for me group training has the best of both worlds; I choose the classes that are convenient but I also have a ready-made support system.  Every class I have been to has had an enthusiastic instructor.  Yes it’s their job, but so far I haven’t found a duff one.  And in most of the classes I have found helpful, kind people who are willing to help out a newbie.  Occasionally, as in life, there is someone who knows best, who looks and feels unapproachable but to be fair I have found them few and far between.  And another wonderful aspect is the fun you can have! Many smiles and giggles are shared, plus at the end there is an overwhelming sense of achievement.


My tips

Think about what you enjoy and what is practical when you choose a class.  If you are petrified on water, aqua aerobics may not be for you.  Equally if you know you are out of shape try not go for an advanced two hour class.  It will put you off!

Try several.  One of the beauties of belonging to a gym is that it doesn’t cost any extra to do the classes.  I have admitted that Zumba is not really my bag, but I have given it a go and then I’ll try something else.  I know that I have no rhythm, timing or balance.  So classes where these ingredients are vital, for me, would be a recipe for disaster.  One of the reason I love aqua aerobics so much, is that even though there is balancing and dancing, the water hides a multitude of sins!

If you are doing several a week think about the aims of the classes.  Some will be aerobic that will help to burn calories and work the heart and lungs.  Some will be conditioning-focusing more on toning, strength and endurance.  And others may focus on flexibility and condition as well as providing a calm and relaxing experience.  You may want to mix these classes up so you have a complete workout and certain areas of your body (I am thinking of knees if overweight) are not overworked and could be injured.

Most of all enjoy it!  It might be that group exercise is not for you.  But I have enjoyed it and have met some great people all wanting the same thing-to get fitter. It certainly is something I intend to keep up.

All, the best,


Woodyrunning spoon


I try Zumba…and we don’t get on



Zumba has been very popular in the last few years and I have to admit I have always wanted to try it. Described as “the Latin-inspired easy-to-follow, calorie burning, dance fitness party” on its website, it looks fun and effective.  So enthused, I thought I’s give it a try.  I was nervous as I have a distinct lack of coordination, rhythm and timing and am certainly not agile and nimble.  But nothing ventured…

Fortunately a kindly lady took me under her wind and gave me advice (don’t stand at the back as it sometimes becomes the front, and concentrate on your feet, don’t worry about your arms).  The class was full (1 man) and there was a great buzz. The music was contemporary and vibrant and the moves were complex but do-able.  But it didn’t seem to matter as people were enjoying themselves.  I have to admit although I felt I had a good workout, it wasn’t to the level of Body Pump. It definitely didn’t play to my strengths, but I thought I’d give it another go.

Oh dear.

I went to a daytime class, thinking it would be packed as the schools have gone back.  Whether it was the sunshine or people wanting to chill once the children have gone back, the class was deserted.  There were six people and two went half way through.  Whereas my first lesson had a good buzz, this one just magnified my shortcomings and pretty soon I was quite despondent.  I finished the lesson and decided to give it one more crack, but I fear Zumba may not be the class for me. I think I can get a more enjoyable, all over workout in other classes or using the gym.  Well at least I gave it a try.

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon

I try Body Pump…and survive!


A few years ago, Les Mills’ classes seemed to be taking over the fitness industry.  They were very popular and seemed to be a class for everyone.  The one I always liked the look of was Body Pump, as I have absolutely no rhythm or timing (I am the one who is always out of time) but I never seemed to have the courage to take the plunge and try the class.  Until this week.

According to the Les Mills’ website: “BODYPUMP™, the original LES MILLS™ barbell class, will sculpt, tone and strengthen your entire body, fast!

Great bodies aren’t born, they are transformed, using the proven BODYPUMP™ formula: THE REP EFFECT™ a breakthrough in resistance workout training. Focusing on low weight loads and high repetition movements, you’ll burn fat, gain strength and quickly produce lean body muscle conditioning.”  Ok, we’ll see about that!

I managed to secure a spot right at the back of the class (away from the mirrors-yippee!) and watched what everyone was doing.  It involved free weights and bar weights and not knowing how I would cope with the class I went for the lowest amount possible (yes I did have weights on the bar before anyone asks!).  This is one of the great things about the class; you can choose weights to suit your own level.  First up it was lifting the bar to music and after that set, the instructor asked if anyone was new. I was the only one who lifted up my hand and she gave me advice throughout the lesson.

The first half hour sped past and at first my arms had a lovely tingle.  Then it got harder and I could really feel my muscles working as we use a mixture of the bar and free weights.  Whereas at first I was lifting the weights easily later on I was grateful for the puny amounts I had chosen!  I knew when my arms asked for a divorce that they had a good work out!  I really enjoyed the session and certainly felt the benefits.  I had some muscle soreness the next day although it didn’t stop me running.  Would I go again?  You betcha!  And I did; two days later.  More soreness but very satisfying.

For all you chaps out there, yes there were men in the class.  I’d say about a quarter of the class were men.  So no excuses for anyone.  I hope if you try it you enjoy it as much as I did.

All the best,

Woodyrunning spoon