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Shape Up! Five fun ways to stay on the road to fitness

FitnessCrossFit, Inc.DanceUltimate Fighting ChampionshipYMCA

Fall is near and our incentive to have bikini-fit bodies may be coming to an end. Or is it? Most experts would agree that the importance of year-round fitness is essential. So with big holiday meals looming in the distance, you might want to get motivated to find a workout that compliments your lifestyle and keeps you in shape.  Fortunately, Harford County is full of fun places to get fit. Whether it’s boot camp or mixed martial arts, there’s something for every fitness level.

[This rating system is intended to be used as a guide only. Ratings are based on the fitness level of an average athletic adult. If you are uncertain about your personal fitness level, begin with an easier workout. Please consult your doctor before starting a new fitness routine.]

Rating system: [&] very light; [&&] light; [&&&] moderate, [&&&&] hard; and [&&&&&] maximum

 

1. Boot Camp - difficulty:[&&&]   

This military-inspired workout is designed to get your heart rate going and push you to your limit in one hour.

“Boot camp is great if you’re looking for development of strength, stamina and agility. It’s done through weight training, calisthenics, obstacle courses and core training and running,” says Whitney Lang, director of health and wellness at the Walter and Betty Ward Wellness Center at the YMCA in Abingdon. “The best part is it’s conducted indoors and outdoors, so you’re not stuck inside of a classroom.”

Boot camp classes are offered three times a week at the YMCA. During a typical class, participants can expect to run, perform jumping jacks and push-ups, as well as squats and lunges. The instructor, Kelly Albright, also uses the fitness center’s natural terrain, such as hills and lines in the parking lot for certain exercises as well.

“It sounds intimidating, but a really great instructor can make the class accessible to anybody,” says Lang. “Kelly does a great job of including all fitness levels.”

Cost: Classes are $30
for members and $70 for non members for eight-week sessions.

2. Aqua Zumba - difficulty: [&]

You’ve probably heard of Zumba before. You may have even taken a class. But when you add water to the mix, the Latin cardio workout gets a whole new feel that’s equally challenging.

At Harford Community College in Bel Air, Aqua Zumba, also known as the “Zumba pool party,” is offered twice a week, according to Kathy Burley, coordinator of physical education and outdoor recreation for HCC.

The one-hour workout includes the traditional Zumba moves, but with aqua fitness as well. The class combines moves from salsa, merengue and reggaeton, but at a slightly slower pace because of the water resistance.

Cost: The course fee is $20 and tuition costs about $100. Water shoes are required.

3. Belly dancing - difficulty: [&&]  

 If you’re looking for a fun dance class that doesn’t require a partner, then belly dancing may be for you. At Swingtime Ballroom in Fallston, belly dancing is offered from 8 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Each class is taught by Naimah, an award-winning professional belly dancer.

“Belly dancing is an excellent overall workout because you’re stretching, flexing, using muscle isolation and a lot of isometric-type movements,” says owner Scott Layfield. “It’s a little bit of everything.”

And if you’re tummy shy, don’t worry. You don’t have to expose your stomach to reap the benefits of the workout.

“She [Naimah] teaches a style of dancing called Tribal Fusion, which has a lot of movements from a lot of other dances,” explains Layfield. “There’s some hip-hop. It doesn’t just use typical Middle Eastern music.”

Cost: Each class is $15. Hip scarf is optional.

4. CrossFit - difficulty: [&&&&&]

 The latest trend in exercising is closer than you may think. If you’ve watched a CrossFit competition on ESPN, then you may think it’s all about men and women pushing tires and lifting very heavy objects. And while that’s part of it, it’s certainly not all of it.

CrossFit is “a strength and conditioning program that is universally adaptable to any fitness level,” according to Todd Fanning, owner and head trainer at CrossFit Harford in Forest Hill. “The system is based on constantly varied, functional movements performed at high intensity.”

Fanning describes CrossFit as the “future of fitness,” which is why he opened his own facility—Harford’s first—in November 2011.

“Overall, it’s the whole package. The workout changes every day, which takes a lot of the thinking out of working out,” he says. “Our workouts are notoriously different and they can be scaled to any fitness level.”

Cost: Free introductory class is available. Drop-in sessions are $20 each. Discounts are available for full-time students, fire fighters, police officers and military personnel.

5. Mixed martial arts - difficulty: [&&&&]   

 Martial arts has always been regarded as a great way to learn self-defense, but it also doubles as a high-impact workout. At Top Flight MMA Academy in Belcamp, participants can learn various forms of martial arts, muy thai and Brazilian jujitsu.

“It’s a total body workout, and it confuses the body as far as muscle memory goes,” says Ron Stallings, owner and professional MMA fighter at Top Flight MMA. “It exercises all parts of the body, from big muscles to little muscles and there’s cardio at the same time. You’re not just going to the gym and lifting heavy weights.”

Stallings, whose Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter stage name is “The Choir Boy,” has been practicing mixed martial arts for about 12 years.

“As a professional fighter, I love the competitive aspect of it,” he says. “But outside of the competition, I love the discipline martial arts brings. Mixed martial arts is for everybody.”

Cost: A 30-day free trial is available.

Resources

101 Walter Ward Blvd. Abingdon
ymaryland.org 
410-679-9622

Harford
Community College
401 Thomas Run Road
Bel Air
harford.edu 
443-412-2000

Swingtime Ballroom
2315 Belair Road

Fallston
swingtimeballroom.com
410-877-2633

CrossFit Harford
1659-D Robin Circle
Forest Hill
crossfitharford.com
410-420-9009

Top Flight MMA
Academy
1371 Brass Mill Road
Suite M-L
Belcamp
topflightmma.com 
410-272-3799

Fun fitness gear:

Nike+ Fuel Band: Check out this sporty wristband that tracks your every move and syncs your progress with a handy mobile app. $149 at nikeplus.com.

Digifit iCardio: This free
app monitors your heart
rate and tracks your workouts. apple.com.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0: These shoes are custom-designed for CrossFit workouts. $109.99 at
shop.reebok.com.

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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