5 Unusual Group Fitness Classes

These quirky new exercise options indicate new trends at the gym.

ByABC News
February 20, 2009, 1:44 PM

Feb. 24, 2009 — -- Not that long ago, yoga, Pilates and spinning were new at most gyms, but now they've become staples at most clubs. To keep people coming in the door and returning again and again, health clubs are continually looking for the next big thing to add variety and innovation to their group fitness classes.

These days, some of the latest exercise trends are ethnic-style dance classes -- from belly dancing to Bollywood, muscle conditioning workouts that produce quick results in terms of strength -- as well as boot camp style athletic formats.

"Mind-body classes like yoga are ... popular because people don't often have time in their busy lives to relax or have a spiritual experience," said Tavia Patusky at Healthworks Fitness Centers for Women, which runs seven clubs in and around Boston.

Some of the new, more unusual fitness classes now offered at Healthworks or at other fitness centers around the country include punk rope (jumping rope to punk rock tunes), cardio strip-tease, which tastefully mimics lap or pole dancing, circus-influenced exercise and hula hoop classes.

Whatever your preferences, the reason many gym-goers gravitate to group classes, according to Patusky, is they create an environment where people come together for a common goal.

Group classes are also offered at scheduled times, the instructors helps to motivate you, and they're social, which provides a built-in positive support system.

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Here are five new routines gaining traction at health clubs around the country.

It's hard to keep your body from moving when Latin rhythms fill the room, and that's just one of the reasons Zumba has become such a popular exercise. This dance-based fitness class set to Latin beats is influenced by salsa, merengue, flamenco and other international dance styles, with some hip-hop and freestyle mixed in.