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Group Exercise Classes to Try This Fall

          Many of my river and yard friends live incredibly close to the MAC or the Hemenway, and their proximity to all the treadmills and ellipticals makes it all the more difficult to justify not going to the gym. But if running, lifting, and swimming just don’t do it for you, then maybe you could try a group exercise class! I’ve made it a goal to try as many of these classes as possible, and though I am not very far, I’ve enjoyed every single one so far.

           This list runs in no particular order, and classes are 55 minutes unless otherwise noted.

If you’re in a rush:

HIIT Cardio is a great way to go! HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and only lasts 25 minutes, with about 6-8 minutes of warmup and cool down in total. Because it’s so short, you’re supposed to make up for it with increased intensity, doing each movement like there’s not tomorrow. This could consists of squats and lunges, sit ups, push ups, aerobics movements…anything and everything, depending on the instructor. You’re free to take as many breaks as you need, and when you’re not taking a break, you’re pushing yourself to the max. The burn is terrible while you’re doing it, but afterwards, I promise you’ll feel great (and a little sore.)


If you’re looking to relax:

Mat Pilates is an excellent choice, and follows HIIT Cardio on Wednesdays from 6:00-6:55. Pilates is all about the core, aka the “powerhouse,” and has a big emphasis on breathing and mindfulness. You never repeat the movements more than 6-8 times, and the instructors always offer you at least two or three levels to work at for your different levels of expertise.

Yoga is too, but I’ve never legitimately done it. But many of my friends recommend.


If you’re an avid dancer:

Balletone is a great choice for you. It’s actually far less ballet than you might think, and has a small chunk of mat pilates at the end if it’s taught by Cristina. Like pilates, Balletone focuses on working the core, and often will help you do this through a series of moves that focus on balance while you are on relev (standing on your toes.) It often ends up being a lot more exhausting than I think. Another perk of Balletone is that you will often be offered different levels or options, so you can opt for whichever is more comfortable, or uncomfortable for you. It’s not exactly customized, but offers great freedom in your choice.  

Cardio Hip Hop is a lot of fun. You learn a little chunk of the routine every time, so if you go to every class, you’ll have a fun length routine at the end. If you don’t, then unfortunately you won’t be able to piece all of it together very well, but it’s still incredibly fun and full of great rhythm. You don’t need to know how to dance at all, and it can be especially difficult to put the arm and leg movements together, which make for a happy coordination challenge. Everybody there is there to have fun, regardless of dance experience, and I promise that everybody looks equally beautiful when they’re dancing their hearts out to the beat.

Zumba. If you walk with a twist in your hips, it’s for you. If you don’t, it’s still for you. I love Zumba. I’ve been to almost every instructor’s Zumba, and everybody has a different flavor. Some are more dance heavy, and some are more aerobics like. Of the dance, some are more Latin-inspired, and others more Hip-hop inspired. Any class, however, will get you breathing hard, whether you are a beginner or a guru. Like Pilates and Balletone, there are always multiple levels of intensity to work with, and you can pick whichever one you want. There’ll always be at least one other person at the same level as you, so don’t be afraid to amp it up or cool it down. Do take note that Zumba gets taught mostly based on nonverbal cues, so it’s a game of follow the leader at first, until you get the movements down pat, so it can be kind of confusing for first-timers. But the rule is to give each instructor three classes before quitting, just so you can be familiar with their routines!


If you don’t want to dance but want to get the cardio up:

Cardio Kicks is for you! The class is supposed to be cardio kickboxing, but without the punching bag and the gloves. You go through all the actions, like punching, kicking, ducking, and you learn a lot of new terms, like “roundhouse kick.” It does tend to get a little crowded, and I have accidentally kicked somebody before, so definitely be very aware of your surroundings. Other than that, it’s a wonderful way to get the heart rate up, work up a sweat, and let out the pent up stress from the week.


Those are only a few of the wide range of classes they offer. So what are you waiting for? Let’s hit the gym!

Schedules for Group Exercise Classes at the MAC and the HEMENWAY can be found here:


Note: Injuries can certainly be accommodated by substituting different moves or forgoing an exercise entirely. Just be sure to let the instructor know; they’ll run around at the beginning of class asking for this information, so don’t be shy.


Amy Zhao

Harvard '18

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