Top Picks for 2011 Workouts
Group exercise classes typically are one size fits all: You either do the class or you don't finish because you can't keep up.
Fortunately, things are starting to change. The American College of Sports Medicine reports that the hottest group exercise trends for 2011 aren't just for tanned, toned Gen Xers. There's an explosion of move-at-your-own-pace classes that are a good fit for the over-40 crowd.
Fitness experts agree that middle-age bodies need at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Signing up for a group exercise class is fun and many community centers and gyms now offer a wide range of choices geared toward baby boomers. For those who aren't into a group setting, there are new exercise DVDs and fitness video games that offer workouts in the privacy of one's home.
"The boomers want tough but attainable exercise classes," says Carol Murphy, who has taught fitness classes for 29 years at the YMCA in Rochester, N.Y. "Remember," she adds, "there is no bad exercise if people get moving."
Here are my picks for getting your exercise groove on in 2011.
Five classes you should try at least twice.
1. Zumba. This is a high-energy, low-impact workout that's more like a dance party than an exercise class.
2. Water Fitness. For nonimpact exercise, you can't beat an aquatic workout.
3. Yoga. Enjoy a gentle workout for mind and body -- with plenty of stretching and relaxation techniques, too.
4. Silver Sneakers. These classes are geared toward older adults and designed to increase strength and flexibility.
5. Pilates. This form of exercise effectively targets core muscles.
"There are so many benefits of a healthy lifestyle," says June Kahn, a group exercise instructor for three decades and owner of a fitness and Pilates center in Boulder, Colo. "In this age of technology and people sitting behind computers for hours on end, we are seeing people age prematurely and not stay functionally fit."
Five DVDS to buy or borrow
1. Karen Voight's "Ease Into Fitness." Voight is an icon in the fitness industry -- she has trained Tina Turner and Bette Midler and consulted with Paula Abdul on her dance workout tape. This is her 27th video.
2. Jane Fonda's "Prime Time Fit and Strong." Fonda's latest mission is to spread the message that it's never too late to start exercising. Recently, she told SecondAct, "I'm on this crusade to get older people out of the chairs, off their couches, moving in a way that's safe, easy and very doable, even if they've never done it a day in their lives."
4. Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies." Try any of the five DVDs in this high-energy series.
5. Kathy Smith's "Body Boomers Workout." This is the latest offering from Smith, who has appeared in more than two dozen exercise videos.
Want more? Collage Video details nearly 1,000 exercise videos on its website; 18 are specifically geared toward boomers.
Two fitness systems to try
1. Wii Sports software. This includes the updated Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board. "The Wii Fit is an amazing advance in video-game health technology," says Jenny Patoine, a community specialist on aging in St. Johnsbury, Vt. "It brings the ease of use of the Wii technology and creates a fun-practical workout that anyone can do."
2. Kinect Sports software. What makes Kinect different from the Wii is that you can play games without the help of a controller. Instead, Kinect employs a motion sensor that recognizes your physical movements and voice commands -- making you the controller.
Don't be afraid of the joystick. Video games are multigenerational and great fun. I play Wii Sports with my kids all the time.