Fitness instructors are like most of us — fanatic about their favorite class. In most cases, it’s the class they teach. But no matter how much they love their yoga or running or HIIT, that’s typically not all they do. After all, cross-training is essential for avoiding injuries and boredom, and therefore will help you reach your fitness goals faster.
So we asked a few instructors: Other than the class you teach, what class do you love to take and why? Combine all their answers, and you have a pretty solid training program.
EVERYONE LOVES YOGA
For a lot of trainers, yoga is the answer for its ability to help with flexibility and managing stress.
“I absolutely love attending Bikram yoga,” says certified personal trainer and group instructor Anowa Adjah. “I’m a huge fan of HIIT and WOD-style workouts, which are pretty intense and demanding on the body. Bikram is a welcomed contrast to that. It allows me to mentally regroup and relax, yet gives my body the proper stretch that it needs. Also, it’s amazing to see how my body changes week to week when I perform certain poses. I love small victories!”
SoulCycle instructor Samantha Jade also says she loves to complement her cycling with hot yoga, for both the stretch and the de-stressing. “I find the classes amazing and challenging, especially the ones focused on seated and reclined positions held for 3–5 breaths each. I try to get into a nighttime class as my ‘moving meditation’ to calm my mind and relax my body before bed,” she says.
Since there are so many styles of yoga, some trainers even take a few classes. Julian Chua, a professional boxing trainer, takes a sculpt yoga class that’s whole-body strengthening with stretching. “The instructor always talks about alignment in body, mind and breath. Her messages before we start inspire me to work hard and do my best,” he says. He also takes a class that incorporates resistance bands into traditional yoga poses. “It’s made a real difference in my boxing mobility,” Chua says.
INDOOR CYCLING WINS FOR INTENSITY
Yoga fan Brian Chan likes a combination of spin and strength training. “With spin classes, I’m able to amp up my cardio and get my heart rate going in an energetic environment. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I’m working out because I get lost in the trance of the beat,” he says. When he hits the gym to lift, he targets specific muscle groups. “I’ve always found a great balance between the yin — restorative and stretching practice of yoga — with the yang — high adrenaline, contraction training of a gym workout,” he says.
Chan also likes cycling for its intensity. “It’s a full-body workout for speed and stamina,” he says. “I had no idea spinning was such an art until I took Jenny Savage’s class.”
PILATES COMPLEMENTS CYCLING
In addition to yoga, Jade also takes Pilates classes when she’s not on a bike. “Pilates works the smaller muscle groups, the stabilizing muscles, which is a great complement to the more dominant muscles we use while we spin,” she explains.
READ MORE > TRAINERS FAVORITE … EXERCISES
BOXING BALANCES BARRE
This last combo may surprise some, but Nikki Rifkin, master teacher and managing director of Bar Method, Brentwood, California, says boxing and her classes make perfect sense. “Sometimes I just want to let go of all control and unleash on a bag. It helps me rid any stresses from my week while staying healthy in my mind and body,” she says. “The control that Bar Method requires and the release that boxing provides are a great combination together.”
SOMETIMES IT’S ABOUT TRYING NEW THINGS
“I currently teach a lot of cycling and TRX, and my favorite classes are ones that are way out of my comfort zone of teaching,” says Shana Verstegen, fitness director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Wisconsin. “My recent favorite is PoundFitness (a workout that uses weighted drumsticks). At first it seemed so silly to be flinging sticks around, but by the end of the class, I was jamming so hard I didn’t even realize I was completely out of breath! And the soreness the next day was second to none.”
As you can see, no matter what your favorite instructor teaches, they definitely mix it up. Follow their lead and discover fun new ways to get your sweat on and reap the physical and mental benefits.