Burn fat, tone up and work up a really good sweat with our guide to the best exercise classes for torching calories.
Taking part in a weekly exercise class is a great way to boost motivation and add some variety into your training (some gyms are running classes outside during lockdown). But if your goal is to lose weight or tone up, you’ll need to choose the right type of class to suit your goals. Fortunately, if time is tight, there are a variety of classes you can choose that don’t take a whole hour of your time. Many gyms now make a point of offering express workout classes, as they know that many people are pressed for time. Here are some of the best workout classes you can do to burn fat and calories in the least amount of time… just one or two classes a week will boost your results and give you variety and stimulation.
Most gyms offer Kettlebell classes and they involve moves like Kettlebell swings, as well as lifts and presses, that you perform continuously. Great for improving strength and tone, as you do the exercises, you’ll also find that your heart rate will increase and you’ll soon begin to feel like you’re working hard. A Kettlebell swing move works all of the body, including the upper and lower and core, and will feel strenuous. Typically, a class will last for around 30 minutes, including a five-minute warm up at the start and a few minutes of cooling down at the end. Don’t worry if you’re not sure about exercise technique… instructors will go around the class assisting those who need it.
Not new but a popular old favourite and with good reason. One 45-minute Spin class can typically burn around 500 calories or more, depending on your weight, fitness level and how hard you work during the class. It combines a mixture of sprint intervals with periods of recovery and hill climbs. Great for leg strength and power, but a cardio workout that’s sure to make you sweat. Make sure you have the seat at the right height before you start – ideally, it should be at hip height when you’re standing next to the bike and your leg should have a slight bend in the knee when you pedal downwards.
Circuit training classes
These can range in duration from 30 minutes to an hour, but many gyms offer mini-circuit classes lasting from 25 to 30 minutes, incuding the warm-up. The instructor will set up various workstations, including press-ups, bench dips, bodyweight squats, mountain climber and jumping jacks, and you’ll do one exercise for a set period of time before moving to the next with little or no rest. At the end of the circuit, you’ll rest for a minute, and then repeat the circuit again. You’ll work the entire body, and your heart rate will soar.
British Military Fitness
Ideal for those who love to exercise outdoors, these classes take place in parks across the UK and offer fun and variety for those who prefer to exercise in a group setting. Again, moves tend to be bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, star jumps, burpees and competitive games, often interspersed with running intervals. Classes are split into different ability levels. Nell McAndrew is a huge fan and credits her toned figure with regular classes.
These classes are fun and varied, offering a range of exercises mixed in with boxing moves. You don’t hit anyone else, you’ll either be doing shadow boxing or using pads and gloves. You’ll warm up for five minutes or so with a light jog and run around the studio, and then you’ll do a variety of boxing moves mixed in with moves like jumping jacks, squats and lunges. Great variety. Some gyms offer shorter express boxing classes lasting for 30-45 minutes.
If you want to get your stomach strong and toned, then doing a short express abs class if your gym has one will be a good way to top up the exercises in this guide. Abs classes typically include a five-minute warm-up and then you’ll be doing abdominal exercises for around ten minutes, before cooling down. So you can be done in as little as 15-20 minutes and feel good about doing your stomach. Ideal for those who tend to skip the abdominal workouts!
Now in many gyms courtesy of Les Mills, the company who brought us the Bodypump, BodyAttack and BodyBalance classes, GRIT classes focus on increasing fitness and burning fat. They switch rapidly between strength work and cardiovascular training and you’re working at high intensity throughout. A typical class lasts around 30 minutes.