Group Weight Training

Studies have shown that weight training can reduce fat while increasing lean muscle, reversing bone loss, and increasing energy and balance. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, after a year of weight training twice a week, women?s bodies were 15 to 20 years more youthful.

But what if you don?t feel comfortable working out in a weight room? Group weight-training classes — or body-sculpting classes — are a popular alternative. Such classes emphasize muscular endurance training by using high repetitions of light weights. Depending on the class, participants use barbells, dumbbells, weighted bars, resistance bands or weighted balls to condition the major muscle groups. The classes are typically suitable for both beginners and experienced weight lifters because the amount of weight used can be adjusted to vary the workout?s intensity.

Brooke Hayward, a suburban Philadelphia instructor certified through the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America, said ?A sculpting class allows you to cross-train without leaving the aerobics studio. It?s especially attractive to women who are intimidated by weight rooms and enjoy the commaraderie offered by group classes.?

Hayward offers these tips for making the most of a group weight-training class:

Make sure the class works balanced muscle groups — such as biceps and triceps or chest and back. Ideally, the class should provide a full-body workout for maximum benefit.

The class should include both slow and fast tempos to provide an efficient workout that includes toning and strengthening.

Choose a weight that enables you to complete the full range of motion for the entire set or sets.

Keep your hips, knees and toes in alignment throughout the movement.

Keep your shoulder blades retracted (back and down). Chest should be lifted, too.

Stretch the worked muscles between sets to break up lactic acid buildup and reduce sore muscles the next day.

Make sure the class includes a warm-up and cool-down.

Limit yourself to two or three sculpting classes per week with at least 24 hours between the classes to give your muscles time to recover.

Important note: As with all exercises, weight training may not be appropriate for people with certain physical limitations. If you?re unsure, then check with your physician first.