If you want to drop the dumbbells or step off the treadmill, there are more ways than ever to work up a sweat in Charlotte.
You can choose aerial workouts on silky fabrics, sculpt muscles atop a stand-up paddle board on Mountain Island Lake, or get your heart-rate up dancing to Bollywood beats. There’s also pole-dancing fitness workouts, trampoline aerobics and a newly arrived workout chain that focuses on indoor cycling.
Group fitness classes have evolved over the years, introducing innovative ways for people to stay active. Fitness experts say this gives people new ways to challenge their bodies, and the fun can help them stick with the exercise.
“If it’s something that motivates you and inspires you, it’s something you’re more likely to commit to and adhere to long-term,” said Jessica Matthews, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise.
A recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030. Adults who are physically active are less likely to develop chronic diseases and have healthier body sizes than those who aren’t active, experts agree. Matthews notes that fitness isn’t limited to the four walls of the gym. According to one trade association, 16 percent of Americans belong to a health club, though memberships have increased in recent years.
Every year or two, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte typically considers a new format of exercise to add to their mix as they track class attendance and fitness trends.
Their most popular types of classes are yoga, Athletic Conditioning and cardio-interval classes that combine cardio and strength training, said Sue Dissinger, association director of healthy living.
Formats like the strength-and-conditioning program CrossFit and TRX Suspension Training, which focuses on bodyweight exercise, are becoming more popular, too, she said.
But no matter what the new exercise trend is, Dissinger said people always look for camaraderie, variety and challenge.
The Siskey YMCA in Matthews holds an hour-long Bollywood dance fitness class once a month where the cardio workout also hits muscle toning, particularly in the arms and core muscles. YMCA offers three free guest visits with a member per year, and $10 each visit after.
Instructor Beth Anderson said dance fitness classes make it easy to forget that you’re actually exercising. “You realize you’re working out because you’re sweating, your heart rate’s up,” she said. But, “you get so into the rhythms and into the music.”
Work out on the water
Ramsay Mead of Paddle Core Fitness in Charlotte says there is also a little more to stand-up paddleboard workouts than just the exercise.
“With this you get an experience,” Mead said of working out on the water.
Along with lessons and tours, Charlotte’s Paddle Core Fitness offers a fitness program that’s a combination of on-land and on-water strength training. Yoga and fitness classes run $28 for each session and target balance and strengthening core muscles.
For those seeking a new workout experience on land, an indoor cycling chain from New York called Flywheel Sports opened its first Charlotte location in March on Providence Road and will open a second location on Rea Road at the end of this month.
Their cycling classes are 45 minutes each, with high intensity cardio and about 5 minutes of an upper body workout using weighted bars. The studio offers stadium-style seating and performance-tracking technology.
Riders can even choose to show their stats on the display board for a more competitive experience. Flywheel also offers “FlyBarre” classes, which blend circuit training, strength building and stretching using light weights, balls and bands. Each single class is $25.
Take to the air
Shama Patel, owner of uptown’s Flex + Fit, says her studio typically introduces new classes every month. The studio offers a variety of “Air” (aerial workouts), barre, spin and yoga classes, among others. One of the most popular classes is “Air Fit,” where students do aerial exercises on silky fabrics, focusing on strength training and flexibility.
The studio most recently started a hot ballet class, which combines ballet and yoga movements in a 105-degree room. Drop-in classes are $20. Memberships and class packs are also available.
“Allowing people to come in and experience something different – but still get a really good workout while they’re having fun – is the whole premise behind” the studio, Patel said.
Robert Touchstone, 31, who works for Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte, has been going to Flex + Fit for almost a year. He said it’s probably the longest he’s been committed to any one fitness program because he gets bored easily.
In addition to working out with free weights at the gym, he tries to go to the studio four to five days a week, attending classes including “Air Fit” and hot yoga, among others.
“It keeps working out fun,” he said.