Fitness classes provide alternative to treadmill, weights

Local clubs brace for rush of new members for New Year’s resolutions

By: Tiffany Esshaki, Chris Jackett | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 23, 2011

 Instructor Sara Hoffman leads a drums and salsa class at the Beverly Hills Club Dec. 22. Hoffman and other fitness club instructors are likely to experience an increase in class attendance after Jan. 1, 2012, as residents aim to get fit for the new year.

Instructor Sara Hoffman leads a drums and salsa class at the Beverly Hills Club Dec. 22. Hoffman and other fitness club instructors are likely to experience an increase in class attendance after Jan. 1, 2012, as residents aim to get fit for the new year.

Photo by David Schreiber

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With the new year on the horizon, local gyms and fitness centers will undoubtedly see an increase in use as people try to achieve New Year’s resolutions of varying weight loss and fitness goals.

An increasing number of fitness alternatives are combining cardio and toning aspects, and many fitness centers are offering a variety of group fitness classes ranging from Zumba and spinning to kickboxing and water aerobics.

Sara Hoffman, a Royal Oak resident, teaches Zumba, drums and salsa, belly dancing, bar method, pole dancing, yoga, urban striptease and kickboxing at eight different local fitness centers. Among those are the Beverly Hills Club, 31555 Southfield in Beverly Hills; Franklin Athletic Club, 29350 Northwestern Highway in Southfield; Curves, 633 S. Adams Road in Birmingham; and Powerhouse Gym, 400 E. Brown St. in Birmingham. She said her class size nearly doubles from 15-20 people to 25-30 each year after the new year.

“The first after the new year and early in February people get a second wind,” said Hoffman, who teaches 20-30 classes over the course of six days each week. “It usually goes through until it gets nice outside.”

The wide varieties of classes at different health clubs provide something for everyone, but Hoffman said Zumba has consistently been one of her biggest draws.

“There’s definitely the biggest demand for me because of the Zumba parties I’ve thrown and the world record attempt in Royal Oak,” Hoffman said. “It’s mostly cardio, swaying, burning calories. If people get sore, it’ll be your legs. If they use weights, it’ll be their shoulders.”

Hoffman said many people prefer the group fitness classes for the benefits, and because they work harder when they have an instructor and other people to keep up with.

“With a treadmill, you’re sitting there working the same muscle groups the whole time. With Zumba and these other classes, you’re working all these different muscles,” Hoffman said, adding that a 60-minute Zumba session can burn up to 900 calories per hour, depending on body type and fitness level.

Bridget Reynolds, group exercise coordinator at the Birmingham Family YMCA, 400 E. Lincoln St. in Birmingham, said group classes are popular with members year round because of the reasonable prices and the variety to choose from, including cycling, yoga, karate, Zumba and more.

“Here, you’ll get a challenging workout, and unlike some other gyms, you’re not going to restrict yourself to a treadmill or an elliptical. That’s where people drop off, because it’s going to become boring,” Reynolds said. “If a person goes into the classroom, it provides variety.”

She added that the YMCA is different from other fitness centers because of the sense of community — and that’s also what keeps members coming back to class week after week.

“Our class sizes are not necessarily that big, so it’s personable,” Reynolds said. “People know you by name, and they miss you when you’re gone. A lot of people starting out need that accountability.”

Hoffman said the biggest factors with those starting to work out for the new year are consistency and motivation.

“The most important part is they stay regular with it. If they go Wednesdays and miss it, go to another one,” Hoffman said. “Stay consistent and remember that you’re going to fall off the wagon and keep going when you do. Don’t let it derail you.”

She also suggested keeping a list of achievements in order to remain positive throughout the fitness journey.

To start a fitness journey at the BHC, FAC or Birmingham YMCA, visit www.beverlyhillsclub.net, www.franklinclub.com and www.ymcadetroit.org, respectively.

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