How to Exercise with Group Step Aerobics
Don’t Get Frustrated Your First Time in Step Class
I’ve seen it many times before – person joins in on a group step class, sets up in the front or the very back, stands there with a look of utter confusion, and in the end they never return to another class. Sometimes this is a fault of the instructor due to lack of explanation before class, lack of motivation to return, and late cues. But many times individuals get unnecessarily embarrassed and walk out without giving the class a shot. Here are some tips on taking group step aerobics.
- Risers or No Risers - Step your step up with no risers or only one riser on each side to begin with. Many times people are overly eager to get a great workout and they don’t realize that two risers on each side can be dangerous for beginners. Two risers on each side increase the height of the step more than you realize. The moves in group step involve squatting and jumping from one side to the other, moving at a fast rate of speed over the top of the step, and split marches and squats. If you are unfamiliar with step you will have to watch the instructor closely to figure out the cues and movements. The last thing you want to worry about is tripping and falling. Split marches and lunges can twist or hurt your knees if the step is too high. Be sure to start out low and work your way up. Find a step and/or risers with four rubber stoppers on the bottom. Use the gym’s paper towels and cleaning spray to clean the rubber stoppers to prevent slipping.
- Position in Classroom - Set up in the middle of the classroom or the back with a straight view of the instructor. Ask the people around you if they’ve taken the class before. Many times it helps to have an expert in front of you so you can copy the more complicated movements instead of mirroring the instructor’s movements. This is the reason I say do not set up in front. It is more difficult to mirror movements if you are a beginner. Do not set up on the sides. As you turn sideways you will be unable to see the instructor and beginners have trouble looking in the mirror to figure out what to do next. Listen for the cues and the names of the movements. This is the key to learning group step because many times the routines change from day to day. You will never be able to memorize a routine unless you’ve been taking the class for years. Instead, memorize the names of the steps and eventually you will be able to do the steps by listening to the instructor’s cues.
- Give the Class a Chance – Chances are, you will feel embarrassed or out of place your first time. Many people stand still and watch the others because they are so confused. Some even sit on the sides and watch. This is probably the worst thing you can do to motivate yourself to take the class. Watching it is way more intimidating than taking the class. The moves look difficult. You might feel like you are way too uncoordinated to do the class. Try to imitate the movements even if you are getting them wrong. March in place, step up and down, and watch people in front of you. Most importantly, keep going to class. You must take the class a minimum of 5 times to really understand and become used to the steps. Even if you are the most uncoordinated person on the planet, you can do group step aerobics. Group step will improve your reaction time. There is no reason to feel embarrassed. Everyone has had a first time in group step. Everyone can relate to your situation and most people empathize and therefore they try their best not to stare or make you feel self conscience during the class.
- Size Doesn’t Matter – Whether you are very overweight or average size, group step aerobics is for you. Group step can be modified to your needs. If you are completely out of shape, take the instructor’s cues to perform the lowest version of the exercise whether that means staying off the step completely or using the step with no risers. When the instructor is jogging in place, walk in place at your own speed. Instead of jogging up on to the step, step up or don’t use the step at all, stepping forward and backward only. The important thing is to get moving. Group step can be more motivating than the treadmill or other boring cardio exercises. The class dynamic and music will motivate you to keep pushing forward.
- Cool Down – Most group step classes end with a floor routine that includes a cool down, sit-ups and/or push-ups, and stretching. Even if you don’t want to do the floor exercises, you need a cool down. Stay for the cool down and during the floor routine, do your own thing. Many people do their own exercises during this time, and there is no reason to be embarrassed if you are not doing just as the instructor. Drink water, wipe the sweat off your face, or march in place while the floor routine is going on. Most likely the routine will last a song or less. The last song will be stretching. You must stretch! Both cool down and stretching prevents blood pooling and delayed on-set muscle soreness.
Group step aerobics is a combination of interval and resistance training that can provide weight loss as well as muscle toning. It is one of the best exercise classes you can take to get in shape quickly. Even men can benefit from group step contrary to the belief that this is a woman's exercise class. My husband has lost 30 pounds doing group step and he loves it. It is a fabulous idea for bringing couples together. Give group step aerobics a chance and find out what a great workout this can be for you.