Most gyms and sports centers run a range of exercise classes that cater for all levels of fitness. A description of the class is usually available from reception, or you can speak to the instructor if you're unsure whether the class is suitable for you.
Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program, particularly if you are pregnant or have a long-term condition.
Aerobics and step
Aerobics classes are great for toning muscles, burning calories and getting your
heart rate up. They are usually set to dance music, which helps your motivation and co-ordination.
Step classes are like aerobics but they involve stepping up and down on a plastic step. This means you're burning more fat, particularly around your bottom and thighs, as your muscles work harder.
Step classes may not be suitable for people with knee and
joint problems so check with the instructor before you start.
Toning classes are designed to firm up your muscles, and usually concentrate on areas like the legs, bottom and
stomach. Most of the exercises are carried out on a mat on the floor, but there may be some upper body exercises too.
Yoga and pilates
Yoga is a form of exercise that concentrates on different positions and deep breathing techniques. It can improve your flexibility and posture and relax your body and mind. Wear comfortable clothes and take a pillow.
Like yoga, pilates also helps make the body more strong and supple and can improve posture (the way you stand). There's a lot of balancing work, which is difficult at first but gets easier as your muscles get stronger.
Boxercise and body combat
Body combat, boxercise and similar classes use techniques from tai-chi, boxing and karate. It's a cardiovascular exercise, which means it gets your
heart rate going and your
lungs working hard. You will do range of kicking and punching moves, which require a fairly good level of fitness.
Swimming works every muscle in your body and is low impact, which means that people with health conditions such as arthritis, back
pain, or women who are pregnant can do it without the risk of hurting themselves.
Aqua aerobics classes take place in the pool, and use the water as resistance (weight) for toning.
Weight bearing exercises are good for toning up muscles and strengthening the bones. Lots of people do a few weight bearing exercises on top of their usual workout. Ask in your local gym for tips on how to get started, or if they run classes.
People that want to make their muscles much bigger, do a lot of weight lifting. This needs to be kept up over time for best results.
See your doctor if you have a health condition that means weight-bearing exercises may not be suitable.