When you think of step classes, do you immediately think of terry cloth sweatbands and neon thongs (worn over leotards, natch)? If so, you’re hardly alone. Certainly, step workouts made a big, colorful splash in the 1980s, and with good reason. They were fun, fast-moving, and effective.
But today’s step workouts aren’t your mother’s step workout. They’ve continued to evolve over the past 30-something years, and are now one of the most versatile and powerful tools to get results, including promoting weight loss while tightening up and toning the thighs and glutes.
Read on for a closer look at step classes, along with a great option for getting in on the action.
Step Classes 101
If you haven’t taken a step class in a while or the only version of a step class you’ve seen was in an Olivia Newton-John music video, then you may be wondering what the fuss is all about.
For starters, step classes use a “step bench” or “step.” This lightweight raised platform typically ranges between four and 12 inches in height and can be modified with risers to accommodate a variety of exercises. Because of this, steps are one of the most multi-functional pieces of fitness equipment out there and can be used for everything from cardiovascular workouts to strength training.
What’s the most common use for steps? The classic cardio workout featuring the fundamental “basic step,” AKA the step-up, step-down move. More advanced moves include sideways, backward, and over-the-top moves — all designed to get the heart pumping while strengthening your muscles.
While all step classes are different — which is one of the reasons they’re so fun — most follow a typical format. Each class begins with a warm-up before proceeding through a choreographed routine using the step. A cool down follows at the end. Some step classes also incorporate hand weights for off-the-step strength training. (Our personal trainers can also help you find the perfect mix of cardio and strength training while offering other workout tips. Sign up for a personal trainer session to customize a workout targeted to your unique needs and goals.)
Three Benefits of Step Workouts
Step workouts offer a number of benefits, including the following:
1. They can be modified to most abilities.
With step classes, the intensity of your workout depends entirely on how high you make the steps and the movements you do. For beginner and/or low-intensity workouts, place the step flat on the floor and keep one foot on the bench or the ground at all times. Increase the intensity by adding risers and using jumping or hopping movements instead of a stepping motion. Furthermore, adding arm movements amplifies the intensity of a step workout.
2. They target the legs, glutes, and much more.
It’s not hard to believe that all that stepping up and stepping down offers an amazing workout for the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and buttocks. But step workouts do much more than that. Every time you step, you stabilize your core. This makes step workouts a great fat-burning tool while simultaneously strengthening your abs and back. Additionally, while the lower body may be the “star” of this type of workout, your arms also get a workout.
3. They’re an amazing aerobic workout.
If you’re looking for a heart-pumping, sweat-inducing workout, look no further than step classes. Looking to burn lots of calories? According to Harvard Health, step aerobics can burn up to 311 calories in a mere 30 minutes! The takeaway? Group step workouts are one of the best weight loss classes around.
Now that we’ve got you sold on the power of step classes, it begs the question: which step workout should you do? Brick Bodies’ Step On Up, or BodyStep are great options. To try one out for yourself, sign up for a trial pass at Brick Bodies today.