Friday, March 19, 2010

New spin on old-school exercises

I recently took a week off from work to chill, try new things, and go workout. Yeah, I know. Why would I workout?! Well, for one I like to move, secondly I want to see what's going on out there in the rest of fitnessland but just don't have time or the inclination when I'm teaching and training all week.

So I tried a Zumba class, a kettlebell class and took another hula hoop class. All of these formats are really a revival of old exercise routines.

Zumba is all the craze right now. Dance, sweat, laugh. All to a Latin beat. (the instructor of my class said it was all about her, so we danced to some samba tunes, but also some ol' time rock-n-roll. It was pretty fun. Easy to follow along. Everyone had their own style, so I liked that. To me the difference between Zumba other fitness classes is the beat, pretty much. Back in the 80s there was high impact aerobics, which quickly became low impact. Jazzercise entered the scene, then there was hip hop fitness, then Nia. All of them dance-y, but with a different twist based on the music and the beat. So, if you like to dance, Zumba could be just the class you're looking for. Jazzercise has actually kept up with the times. They offer a variety of formats that include free weights, kickboxing, etc.
OK, let's talk kettlebells. Kettlebells have been around for centuries and were first used as a training tool Russia. They look like a bowling ball with a handle on it. Kind of like a weighted tea kettle. The theory behind the kettlebell training is the moves integrate the entire body, instead of isolating muscles. Integrated moves mimic real life activities, which is a good thing! But as far as the claims that the kettlebell is the be-all-end-all fitness tool I don't buy it. I've been teaching classes incorporate integrated moves just using free weights and have had some kick ass results. Granted the handle requires a bit more stabilization than a hand weight for some of the moves, but for a lot of them a regular hand weight will do the trick. But everyone loves a new toy, so that's part of the fad behind kettlebells popularity right now. Of course the price tag is spendy. Prices are another 1/2 as much than a hand weight that weighs the same amount.
I have a fond spot in my heart for hula hooping. That craze of the 50's is revitalized today as a great fitness option for those looking for something fun and sassy. This is ain't the hula hooping of the 50s either, girlfriend! The hoops are bigger and the moves incorporate coordination, dance, core strength and moves that take the hoop off the body to work your arms, shoulders and legs.

So, there you have it. My fun filled week off, spent movin' and groovin' around PDX. Now, I think I'll go take it outside...with my hoop!

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