How to Choose the Best Group Exercise Classes For Your Fitness Goals

How to Choose the Best Group Exercise Classes For Your Fitness Goals

The YMCA has a lot to offer, and when we say a lot, we mean A LOT. This can be good and bad, too many choices can be overwhelming and you can’t always get a good feel for a program based on its description alone. Maybe you really want to get into group fitness and you just don’t know where to start, and there’s so much you’re getting a little overwhelmed. Variety is a good thing, it’s the spice of life, but, variety on a group fitness schedule can be a double-edged sword. It’s great to have options, but how do you know which one is best for you and your goals? Well, hopefully, this will help. 

Lose Weight

Weight loss can be a sore subject, but it doesn’t have to be, the Y is here to help. We offer several group exercise classes designed to help you lose weight. Now, the important thing to remember when your goal is to lose weight, you cannot only focus on cardio. In fact, a well-balanced workout schedule is essential for weight loss. Don’t underestimate the power of strength training when losing weight. Strength training builds lean muscle mass, which both increases metabolism and decreases fat. So, the more muscles you build, the more calories you burn on a daily basis. 


If weight loss is your goal, keep this in mind: you need to raise your heart rate using high intensity classes to burn calories. The best tip is to try to stay within 75-85% of your maximum heart rate range if you are wearing a heart rate monitor.  If you are using the Rate Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale (1-10), strive to stay somewhere around 8 or 9 on high-intensity intervals.

YMCA classes for you:

Bodycombat, GRIT, Boot Camp, Group Cycle, SPRINT, Dance Rhythm Vibz, ZUMBA, Kettle Bells, Bodypump, Barre

Class types or keywords:

Cardio, HIIT, Conditioning 

two men exercising, one wearing a black shirt, the other wearing a gray shirt

Gain Strength 

Strength training has a myriad of benefits including gaining bone density, maintaining weight loss, boosting metabolism, and helping with better sleep. Core training is not only an integral part of strength training, but also something that we need in our everyday lives, whether it be walking, sitting, standing, carrying groceries, kids, etc. We need a strong core to move our bodies and lift weights efficiently and safely. Lastly, core isn’t just about abs, think of your core as your neck to knees and all the way around.

Classes for you:

Bodypump, Kettlebells, Boot Camp, Barre, CORE, GRIT Strength

Class types or keywords:

HIIT, Conditioning, Kettle Bells, Core

smiling woman on stationary bicycle

Endurance/Training for 5K, 10K, Marathon 

The key to training for endurance is not just hours and hours of steady-state aerobic training; it is a mix of aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) training. Interval training is imperative for endurance training, intervals of intense exercise can help improve endurance when used in tandem with traditional training. Not to mention that HIIT can improve VO2 max more than steady-state/moderate training, which means increased cardiovascular efficiency which equates to the ability to increase your distances. Ideally, part of any training program, especially those that involve longer distances and rigorous training, should include core training and maybe even more importantly, Yoga/flexibility training. Yoga and flexibility training should be a cornerstone of every repetitive workout program because they will help to prevent injury. 

Classes for you:

RPM, Group Cycle, GRIT Cardio, GRIT Athletic, Bodycombat, CORE, BARRE, Yoga.

Class types or keywords:

Cycle, HIIT, Conditioning, Mind Body

woman stretching her arms, one in front and one behind


Everyone, at some point, no matter what their goals are, should incorporate a time to work on flexibility and even meditation. We spend so much time running all over the place that we often don’t think about the stress we live with that we don’t necessarily realize we are carrying. Relaxation and flexibility often go hand in hand, Yoga classes can help us find relaxation and flexibility, learning how to move with breath and slow down. Exercise does not only have to be for physical health, it is important to take time to focus on your mental health as well.

Classes for you:

Yoga, Bodyflow, Barre

Class types or keywords:

Mind Body

Final Thoughts

Try Anything and Everything. You can’t hate anything after trying it just one time. You have to really try it a few times with an open mind. Once you have tried a variety of classes, stick with the ones you find fun, challenging, and engaging.

Find Your Tribe. Be bold and mingle with the other class participants; introduce yourself and meet some new people. They could turn out to be your new best friends and, or at the very least, some accountability.  

Be Comfortable. If big classes are really scary to you, bring a friend, or try out some virtual options the Y has to offer. Virtual classes are a great way to get your feet wet and learn what the class is like and what you need to do. That way, when you jump into a live class, you feel more prepared.  

Add Some Variety to Your Routine. You will find a class you love and you will stick to it. Advice: try to take the class before or after your favorite. Remember, variety is the spice of life and helps keep you motivated. 

No matter your fitness goals, whether you are trying to lose weight, gain strength, work on endurance training, or maybe focus more on your mental health and well-being via relaxation and flexibility training, the YMCA has something for everyone.

Whether you are just starting your fitness journey or well on your way, sign up for a class today!