Yoga, Pilates, and Barre Oh My! With So Many Fitness Studio Options, Which to Choose?

 

Americans are making fitness and wellness a priority in their lives like never before.  We continue to discover how important it is for our overall health – physical, mental, and emotional.  Whether working out, walking outdoors, taking a hike, meditating, or just working on breathing techniques, it is all so important.  Especially with the increased anxiety and stress due to our work, school, social, and home lives being thrown upside-down by the COVID pandemic. 

There are so many activities that you can do that are great for your body and soul.  We have been getting outside like never before with all of the gym and fitness studio closures due to COVID.  Fortunately, with COVID restrictions being lifted in most area, it is now possible to find indoor fitness in a class setting again.  So many people find additional benefits of being led in a class by a knowledgeable instructor that they cannot get working out on their own.  Not to mention the social benefits and additional “great energy” of being surrounded by like-minded participants and friends. 

With indoor classes opening again, and so many options, what to do?  We thought we would take a look and share the basics of a few of the more popular options that you may be interested in checking out – or are already doing.  They are all great options and will have you feeling better mentally and physically.

Yoga

Yoga is a safe and effective way to increase physical activity – especially strength, flexibility, and balance. More than a physical workout, yoga is a full mind and body exercise.  It is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing.  The beauty of yoga is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to reap the benefits. Whether you are young or old, overweight or fit, yoga has the power to calm the mind and strengthen the body. 

The main components of yoga are poses (a series of movements designed to increase strength and flexibility) and breathing.  There are many different styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda. Some styles are more vigorous than others, while some may have a different area of emphasis, such as posture or breathing. Many yoga teachers develop their own practice by studying more than one style.  No style is necessarily better or more authentic than any other. The key is to choose a class appropriate for your fitness level.

Pilates

Pilates is a system of repetitive exercises performed on a mat or other equipment to promote strength, stability, and flexibility. Pilates exercises develop the body through muscular effort that stems from the core. The technique cultivates awareness of the body to support everyday movements that are efficient and graceful.

Pilates advocates tout the core-strengthening benefits of the method to improve posture and balance. Pilates targets the "powerhouse" muscles, which include the glutes, hips, pelvic floor, and lower back. Similar to yoga, the Pilates Method encourages deep, conscious breathing. Pilates is widely used in rehabilitation settings but is also beneficial to fitness advocates and elite athletes alike.

Barre

Barre class is a rigorous workout that blends elements from different exercise styles including ballet, pilates, and yoga.  Barre class is named for the primary piece of equipment: the bar, which was inspired by the ballet studio.  The exercises are set at a slow pace that aims to build strength and flexibility.

You do not need to be a dancer or have a dance background to enjoy and benefit from a Barre class.  The class focuses on cardio, strength training, and stretching, rather than perfect dance technique.  It focuses on low-impact, high-intensity movements designed to strengthen your body in ways that few other workouts can.  Each barre class is designed to be a full-body, muscle endurance workout. Typically, they're broken into different sections that focus on major muscle groups including the arms, legs, glutes, and core.

HIIT 

HIIT is interval training that is done in bursts of high intensity work for certain periods of time followed by shorter recovery times. These workouts normally last only 30 minutes or less because they are to be done at a pace that is highly challenging for the participant. These type of workouts reap the benefits of higher cardiac function and greatly improve post workout metabolism calorie burn.  Tabata is a type of HIIT training.  Many bootcamps incorporate HIIT principals. 

Bootcamp

Boot Camp is a type of group fitness designed to strengthen one’s muscles, cardiovascular health, mind and confidence. In a boot camp class one can expect to do callisthenic type exercises such as push-ups, lunges, squats, crunches, burpees, but also cardio exercises likes drills and shuttle runs.

With over 150,000 fitness, yoga, Pilates, barre, and bootcamp studios in the United States there are certainly multiple options near you, from local independent studios to large national chains.  Not all classes and studios are made for everyone.  Studios, class style, and instructors all make a huge difference. 

And, many fitness and yoga studios have begun offering more outside classes.  If you do exercise outside, remember your sunscreen. 

“The sun’s rays start to cook your skin the moment you walk outside.  This can lead to sunburn, aged skin, and cancer,” according to Scott Mehler, CEO of SUNPLUS, a sunscreen made for healthy skin and active lifestyles. 

“We realize that a lot of people are turned off by the way sunscreen feels on their skin, or runs in their eyes when they are being active.  None of our sunscreens do that.  And, our SUNPLUS Sport sunscreen is made specifically to not get in the way of your activity, sport, or competition.”

“We want to encourage people to wear sunscreen.  It has to feel great on their skin.  That is what SUNPLUS is all about.” 

Whatever you do, do it regularly and enjoy it. We know it will bring so many great benefits to your mental and physical health and well-being.  And that is what it is all about.  Your health, wellness, and happiness.