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Fit for Fall

by E.G.L.

There’s no reason you need to leave that beach body behind with the cooler weather ahead.

It’s not so hard to stay fit in the summer. Relaxed schedules, sunny skies, and the incentive to look good in a bathing suit keep many people working out and eating healthy throughout the summer.

Come autumn, some of us may need a boost in motivation. It’s tempting to snuggle up in a bulky sweater and down a few pumpkin lattes. However, for those eager to hold on to their summertime fitness, a wide array of exercise classes may help build strength, improve flexibility, and ward off extra weight gain.

Fitness professionals are constantly developing new classes in an effort to integrate the latest research and keep clients motivated and interested. This fall, gym-goers will find trainers and instructors pushing two themes: strength and fusion.

Building Strength
In recent years, fitness experts have begun extolling the benefits of strength training, in addition to purely cardiovascular workouts like running and biking. That doesn’t mean endless, solitary bicep curls in a sweaty weight room, though. Many fitness classes today are designed to combine the benefits of weightlifting with the camaraderie of group exercise.

The current spin on strength training is “functional exercise” that mimics the way the body moves in everyday life. “When you are running on a treadmill or on the elliptical machine, you’re training your body to work in one way,” says Darren Garland, owner and head fitness coach at Emerge Fitness Center in Mount Laurel. “In real life, the body moves through so many different planes of motion.”

Emerge offers classes that build metabolic conditioning by taking clients through short circuits of exercise. They use equipment like ropes, kettle bells, and TRX suspension-training devices to build strength and fire up clients’ metabolism. Classes include an outdoor “County Fair” class that incorporates a wide range of strength-building exercises. Evolution Fitness in Cherry Hill offers a similar focus on strength and building the body for long-term fitness.

“A lot of people are becoming more educated and learning that it’s not just cardiovascular exercise that the body needs,” says David Duzenski, co-owner of Evolution Fitness. “We teach people how to really use their body, not just sit down or hang out on another piece of equipment.”

Evolution Fitness looks dramatically different from most gyms. There’s not a single treadmill, though there is a sprint track that clients use for short bursts of high-intensity running. Instead, they use strength equipment like barbells and kettle bells, and trainers teach a variety of workouts that are designed to build functional fitness.

Evolution specializes in small-group training, which combines the camaraderie of classes with the personal attention of a private session. Danielle Kane, another co-owner and a group fitness coach, says structure helps members form close bonds and helps build motivation and inspiration, no matter what each member’s age and physical fitness may be.

Evolution’s classes range from “Foundations,” which emphasizes proper techniques and breathing, to “Metabolic,” which is a high-intensity class designed to burn fat. Certified trainers work with clients to determine the best class for their needs and their current fitness levels. Clients may also undergo a Functional Movement Screen and Body Blueprint that helps the fitness staff gauge their needs and pinpoint any physical imbalances or weaknesses.

Mix it Up
Strength training isn’t the only workout option, of course. Yoga and Pilates are historic exercise disciplines that have enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in recent years. These forms of exercise appeal to gym-goers that want to build strength and flexibility without the pounding impact of running or other cardio-intensive workouts. Proponents say they also emphasize the development of mind and spirit, not just the body.

“Our clients expect the best and are very educated, but they are still surprised when they see the benefits of Pilates,” says Bernadette Giorgi, director of Pilates for The Sporting Club, with locations in Philadelphia and Voorhees. Pilates does make a person stronger and more flexible, she says, but it also focuses on working the body symmetrically, which can guard against injury and improve the way the body works in everyday life.

Pilates is known for its arsenal of equipment, including the wunda chair (used in myriad ways for stability and balance exercises) and the reformer (a large frame with a rolling platform, used for resistance and core exercises). The Sporting Club uses the equipment in some classes, but also offers simpler mat classes, which involve the same movements without the props, or with basic resistance bands and balls.

And, for those looking to spice up their workout, Giorgi has taught several blends of Pilates and other disciplines: Pilates with ballet, martial arts or extra cardio, for example. “Fusion is the trend that is here to stay,” Giorgi says. “The variations on traditional Pilates help keep us challenged and engaged.”

In a similar vein, Future Fitness Centers, with locations throughout South Jersey, features several classes that blend elements of different exercise strategies. One popular new option, says Casey Rosario, group fitness director for the chain, is Piloxing. These classes combine elements of Pilates and boxing, with a dash of dance.

“It’s a calorie-torching workout, but it also lengthens and strengthens you,” Rosario says. “It makes you longer, leaner and increases your endurance.”

Another class featured this fall at Future Fitness is Tabata, which uses high-intensity interval training to burn a large number of calories in a short time—the traditional length of a Tabata workout is four minutes. Class members do timed circuits of activities like pushups, sprints and squats, working at 100 percent intensity, then recover for a short time before moving on to the next interval.

In a quest for constant innovation, Rosario is now developing classes in Corebar training, a range of classes that were developed in Europe. Corebar uses a weighted bar in a variety of exercises to stimulate both the cardiovascular and the muscular systems.

Rosario expects it to be a popular addition to her gym’s rotation of classes.

From a mental standpoint, experimenting with many different forms of exercise can ward off boredom and keep people interested in exercising regularly. Physiologically, working out in different ways can prevent overuse injuries and prevent the dreaded plateau—the point at which weight loss levels off and fitness gains cease. Rosario says that by varying workouts, clients can “shock” their bodies into consistent improvement.

“That’s why, in the group fitness arena, there is constant change,” she says. “We want our members to always want to keep coming back for more.”


Emerge Fitness Center
3701 Church Road, Suite 6
Mount Laurel
(856) 438-0348

Evolution Fitness
1990 Route 70
Cherry Hill
(856) 751-1300

Future Fitness Centers
Locations across South Jersey

Jazz Unlimited Studio of Dance Arts
201 Route 73 S.
(856) 983-6608

Marcia Hyland Dance & Arts Center
3771 Church Road
Mount Laurel
(856) 235-4123

The Sporting Club
10100 Town Center Blvd.
(856) 770-0101

So You Think You Can Dance? You can, even if you haven’t laced up tap shoes since you were a teen. Dance studios throughout the Delaware Valley offer opportunities for adults to learn a variety of dance disciplines, from tap to ballet to hip hop, and this fun way to express yourself can be a unique alternative to the standard fitness class.

Some women return to dance after many years out of the studio, hoping to recapture the joy of childhood dance classes. Some are enticed by watching their young children learn dance. Others are inspired by popular reality shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars.

Whatever the motivation, adult dancers can count on a fun workout that includes significant fitness benefits, says Carryl Slobotkin, owner and artistic director of Jazz Unlimited Studio of Dance Arts in Marlton.

“It’s great for tightening and toning the body. It’s a cardio workout. It improves flexibility. And it’s so enjoyable; you get lost in the music you’re working with,” she says.

Jazz Unlimited, which offers adult classes in jazz, ballet and hip hop, has been in business for more than 40 years. That means Slobotkin, who is in her 60s and still dancing, has seen many former students return to the studio with their own daughters. “Some of them remember how much they loved it, and decide to go back to class themselves,” she says.

Another well-known South Jersey studio, Marcia Hyland Dance & Arts Center in Mount Laurel, offers adult jazz and tap classes, as well as a Mommy & Me class, in which parent and child dance and tumble together.

Dance professionals know that some potential clients may be a bit nervous to try dance for the first time, or may fear their old skills are too rusty to revive. Slobotkin welcomes any interested person to observe a class, or even better, take a trial class.

“That’s the best way,” she says. “Just jump in and try it.”

Published (and copyrighted) in the Art of Living Well pull-out section of Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (September, 2012).
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