Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Barbara Kaiser-McCaw Hecht is Director of Hecht Associates, Inc., consultants in Medical Genetics based in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Hecht is a Diplomat of the American Board of Medical Genetics both in Clinical Cytogenetic (Chromosome Genetics) and Medical Genetics (Genetic Counseling). Dr. Hecht attended Stanford University from which she received a BA and an MA in Biology.
For many people, exercising in a group increases
motivation and adds enjoyment to a fitness program. Having a regular time and place to work out can
also benefit those of us who have trouble fitting exercise into a busy schedule.
But if you are new to the world of fitness classes, the array of choices may be
overwhelming (spinning, kick-boxing, yoga, Pilates, step classes, power-pump,
super circuit, hip-hop, Tae Bo, the choices are endless) . If you don't know how to decide on the right exercise class for
you, consider the following points:
What are the instructor's qualifications and training? Fitness instructors should be certified by a
nationally accredited agency such as the American Council on Exercise.
Instructors should be willing to share their training, experience, and
credentials with you. A properly trained instructor can help you adapt the
exercises and movements to your own fitness level and medical needs, thereby
decreasing your chance of developing or aggravating an injury. A
qualified instructor should also tailor your fitness program to achieve your
personal fitness goals (weight loss, strength building, increasing
flexibility and endurance).
Where and when is the class held? How close is it to your home or work? If the location of the class
isn't convenient, you may find more and more reasons not to attend. Likewise,
the timing of the class shouldn't put an undue strain
on your schedule.
What type of exercise activity interests you the most? Years ago, generic
"aerobic" classes were the norm. Today, you can choose among step aerobics, kick-boxing, strength training, trekking, spinning, cardiovascular
fitness, ballet fitness, low-impact aerobics, yoga, Pilates, body sculpting,
aerobics, just to name a few.
Is it possible to attend a variety of classes? Trainers agree that the secret
to effective workouts is to vary your routine and program to constantly
challenge your body.
How crowded is the class?
Some popular classes fill up 30 minutes in advance and require early arrival
and sign-up. Other classes may allow unlimited participants in cramped
quarters. Be sure the class size doesn't produce a stressful, hectic
Can you observe a class or take a trial class for free before you commit?
Most gyms or fitness studios will often provide a free one or two week
pass to try the facility prior to a financial commitment. Trying the
facility will give you a good idea if will meet your needs (both in fitness
options, as well as observing the staff, and cleanliness of the facility).
How does the instructor interact with participants? A good instructor
encourages the attainment of personal goals and discourages a competitive
atmosphere within the class. The teacher should also be able to suggest
modifications of the routines to accommodate beginners, more advanced
exercisers, and those with special physical challenges. The instructor should
also be open and welcoming to all participants.
What are the costs of the class? Classes at community centers and the YMCA are often significantly
cheaper than private health clubs. Are there additional charges beyond
membership fees for certain classes? If the class or program isn't for you,
are there cancellation fees or penalties? Be wary of policies that require you
to lock yourself into a long contract. If child care is offered, are there
additional charges for it? If child care is offered, find out what the hours
are, staff to child ratio, and condition of the child care
What are the facilities like? Is the equipment well maintained and in good
repair? Is the place clean, well lit, and well ventilated? Are the locker and
shower facilities similarly clean and appealing?
Finally, is the class fun? Do you look forward to going? An exercise class
should, above all, be enjoyable and invigorating. If the thought of attending
the class fills you with dread, you're probably not going to stick with it.
If necessary, try several different places, types of classes and different
instructors until you find the right fit for you.