They've changed dramatically in the last ten years, and fitness classes have certainly improved during that time. Where once a club might offer four or five different fitness classes, now they offer twenty or thirty. But among all these possibilities, how do you choose the right fitness class for you?
The first thing to do is figure out what your exercise goals are - different classes work your body in different ways. The main distinctions would be between those that focus on weight loss, strength building, or flexibility - though in truth, most will work all three to a greater or lesser extent.
If your primary goal is to get fitter and lose weight, then an aerobics class of some kind would fit the bill. These days, they are rarely called that so look for names such as Cardio Sculpt, Cardio Stretch, any of the numerous Step classes, or body specific workouts such as Legs, Bums, and Tums. There are also stationary bike workouts such as Spin and Aero-biking, which are excellent for weight loss.
Another good option would be any of the various dance options - whether it is Salsa, Hip Hop, Cardio Jazz, or Latin Groove, these fast paced classes will get you moving and help shift the pounds.
If strength is more of a goal, then consider classes based on martial arts or boxing - names to watch out for include Tae-Bo, Thai Boxing, Boxercise, Kick Boxing, Box Fit, Boxing Circuit, Cardio Kick, Boxing Challenge, Kickboxing, and Plyo/Box - or traditional circuit training.
Those interested in a slightly more relaxed workout that will also improve their flexibility should consider Pilates or yoga - though beware! There are now numerous different types of yoga classes offered, including Ashtanga, Kundalini, Dynamic Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Iron Yoga, and Hatha Yoga.
And for something totally different that will work your whole body, don't forget pool-based classes - options include Aquacise, Aqua Step, or even Aqua Tai Chi.
Ultimately, the only way to find out if a class is right for you is to try it out.