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Alternatives to step class

You've stepped, pumped and Jazzercised, Rollerbladed and Tae-Boed. But there will always be new, improved, traditional and ancient ways to beat your body into submission that you may not have tried. Here are some ideas for a change in your regular fitness routine.


Spinning

Spinning has actually been around since 1986, when fitness nut Johnny G teamed up with Schwinn to produce a stationary bike with only one gear and no freewheel. No freewheel means no coasting, which means a serious, if not grueling workout.

Spinning has been described as fitting the Tour de France into a 45-minute session. Riders normally sit in a semi-circle around an instructor who controls the level of resistance on the bikes, taking you up hills, through mud, down slopes and across flatlands. The excitement comes from the feeling that you are making progress, going somewhere. The end of the session is the end of the race, and you won.

Spinning is recommended for people in relatively good condition, as the workout is intense. You can burn from 500 to 800 calories per hour and work not just your butt, legs and heart, but tone your abs, chest and arms if you really get into it.

Spinning classes are now held at most fitness centers, including:

Millennium Health and Fitness, 4390 Arrows West Drive 260-9022.

World Gym, five locations in Colorado Springs. Call for class schedules.

Bally Total Fitness, three locations in Colorado Springs. Call for class schedules.

Garden Ranch YMCA, 2380 Montebello Drive W. 593-9622.

Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place 282-9622.

Downtown YMCA, 207 N. Nevada Ave. 473-9622.
Pilates

Pilates is more than just stretching. Developed by Joseph H. Pilates during World War I as a way for wounded and bedridden soldiers to exercise, Pilates quickly became a favorite of dancers, performers, athletes and other fitness enthusiasts. The Pilates Method focuses on improving strength and flexibility through the use of specially designed equipment which use springs for resistance. One such piece, the Reformer, can be used in over 200 exercises. Each exercise requires high concentration, strengthening the mind-body connection.

When done correctly, Pilates can be a relaxing, invigorating way to improve breathing, posture, balance, endurance, motion range and confidence without stressful high-impact movements that build bulk.

Motion Studies, 310-B S. 8th St., offers traditional Pilates sessions, as well as Art of Movement classes, which combine Pilates movements with yoga and Luban movement analysis. Call 635-7844 for an appointment or class schedule.

Instruction in Pilates is also available at:

Millennium Health and Fitness, 4390 Arrows West Drive 260-9022

Reforming Arts Exercise Studio with Suzanne Smith, CPI, 442-2265, call for an appointment or a class schedule.


Yoga

The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit -- an accurate description of the ancient practice that joins the physical, mental and emotional beings. One of the most artistic and relaxing forms of exercise, yoga is a highly advanced form of stretching that, like Pilates, increases strength, flexibility, endurance, range of motion and breathing ability.

Whatever physical gains yoga may get you, one of the most attractive features of the practice is the meditation techniques learned in yoga class. Holding the intricate poses, or asanas, requires such concentration that the mind must be cleared of all other thoughts, theoretically leaving you in a refreshed, purified state of mind. While yoga comes in many forms such as Astanga, Kundalini, Hatha and Iyengar, most instructors prefer to teach some kind of hybrid, depending on the needs of their students.

Garden Ranch YMCA, 2380 Montebello Drive W. 593-9622.

Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place 282-9622.

Downtown YMCA, 207 N. Nevada Ave. 473-9622.

Shapemakers Fitness for Women, 3950 Palmer Park Blvd. 596-7151.

Motion Studies, 310-B S. 8th St. 635-7844.

World Gym, five locations in Colorado Springs.

Lori Black, downtown Hatha yoga instructor, 578-8948.

Pat Tegler, Gentle Yoga instructor, 578-8093.

Classical Hatha yoga with Debbie Spencer-Joyous, 592-1979.

Yoga Journeys with Teryl, 709 N. Nevada Ave., Suite 209. 477-9511.

Iyengar-Hatha yoga classes and workshops with Kate Werner at The Studio, 3020 W. Colorado Ave. 535-0503.


Belly Dancing

Belly dancing is a traditional Middle Eastern dance centered around and performed by women. It had its beginnings in Egypt as a childbirth ritual, in which village women would dance and chant around a woman in labor, encouraging rhythmic breathing and celebrating after the child arrived. The fluid movements and rolling, suggestive rhythms exude femininity.

While belly dancing often conjures images of bachelor parties and Indian restaurants, the dance has recently become a way for women to become not only more physically fit, but more graceful and in control of their bodies. The low-impact movements of the hips and abdomen tones those muscles, lifts the pectoral muscles, slims the waist and strengthens the arms and legs. Twenty minutes of vigorous belly dancing burns about 300 calories. All ages and levels of condition can participate in the dance, and you'll look great doing it.

The Ormao Center for Contemporary Dance, 128 N. Nevada Ave. 471-9759.

Beginning belly dancing with Sarah, Jewel of the Nile, at The Studio, 3020 W. Colorado Ave. 684-2552.


Kickboxing

More fun than aerobics and less rigid than martial arts is kickboxing. People across the country have been drawn to the combination of Western boxing and martial arts for its fun, fast pace as well as its cardiovascular benefits. Regular workouts will improve breathing, strength and endurance and also lead to weight loss, if done in connection with a healthy diet -- not to mention allowing you to unload stress and aggression as you punch and kick your way to better health.

Millennium Health and Fitness, 4390 Arrows West Drive 260-9022.

Shapemakers Fitness for Women, 3950 Palmer Park Blvd. 596-7151.

Sozo Fitness, 2375 Telstar Drive 548-8400.

World Gym, five locations in Colorado Springs. Call for class schedules.

Garden Ranch YMCA, 2380 Montebello Drive W. 593-9622.

Briargate YMCA, 4025 Family Place 282-9622.

Downtown YMCA, 207 N. Nevada Ave. 473-9622.

Bally Total Fitness, three locations in Colorado Springs. Call for class schedules.

Boxe Francais Sports, offering several different types of kickboxing training. 7667 N. Union Blvd. 264-8484.

Cheyenne Cañon Fitness & Karate, 1801 Cheyenne Blvd. 632-4435.


Ta'i Chi

Ta'i Chi Chuan, also spelled Taijiquan, combines agility, coordination, sensation, perception, balance and fluid consciousness through controlled physical motion. Heavily connected to Taoism and the Chinese belief of interconnectedness, Ta'i Chi is a low-key martial art that increases strength, endurance, posture, flexibility and, most of all, focus. Almost a Chinese version of yoga, each movement has a name and purpose, both physical and spiritual. People of all ages and levels of health can perform Ta'i Chi with proper instruction.

Sozo Fitness, 2375 Telstar Drive. 548-8400.

Shapemakers Fitness for Women, 3950 Palmer Park Blvd. 596-7151.

Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong instruction, 329-1053.

-- Kristen Sherwood

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