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3 Must-Try Group Fitness Classes for Men

By JAMIE WALKER

Group fitness has exploded in popularity over the past decade, with countless new varieties available for fitness freaks and newbies alike. These classes are great for fitness-minded folks looking to boost their overall athleticism or to fine-tune specific movements and skills. However, many men forgo group fitness classes to concentrate on their own individual training regimen. While it's never a bad thing to have a plan and know what you want from your training, a little flexibility never hurt anyone.

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Here are the top group fitness classes for men looking to take their training to the next level:

1. Boot Camp Classes
Boot camps are a quick way to add variety into existing workout regimens that are falling a little flat. The great thing about this kind of group class is the randomized nature of the exercises you'll have to perform. Compared to randomized classes that utilize heavy lifts like Crossfit, most boot camp classes will be much less strenuous on your body and can be added anywhere into a normal workout week. Boot camps are all about muscle confusion, and that means great things for any athlete or fitness enthusiast. Blast through your plateaus by adding boot camp classes into your weekly workout plan. Boot camp regulars should expect sudden increases in agility, athleticism and range of motion. Plus, as an extra bonus, many boot camp classes are taught outdoors.

2. Yoga
Regardless of the way you choose to train, recovery is incredibly important. Runners, weightlifters and even team-sport athletes can benefit from yoga class. An example of this can be found with the Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks, the only NFL franchise with a team-mandated daily yoga program for players and coaches. Players say yoga and meditation bring them clarity on the field. The coaches say it's changed the atmosphere in the locker room, helping the players focus and concentrate on what lies ahead. But you don't need to be an NFL star to enjoy the benefits of yoga. For runners, yoga is an incredible way to both recover from lengthy runs and to help prevent injury in the future. Many running injuries are induced through repeated stress, so the regular stretching found in yoga helps release tight muscle groups and keep runners ready for the road. Likewise, for heavy lifters, yoga can help keep muscles primed for recovery and help fight muscular imbalances that occur naturally with heavy lifting. The truth is, you won't know what yoga can do for you until you try it--so go ahead, give it a shot.

3. Kettlebells
If you lift weights, chances are you're probably already familiar with the kettlebell. Originally a Russian invention, kettlebells are now popular worldwide, taking American gyms by storm. What makes the kettlebell so effective as a training tool is how it is used. In comparison to traditional dumbbell or barbell exercises, many kettlebell exercises utilize swinging or jerking movements, shocking your body into engaging often-undertrained stabilizer muscles while still hitting many of the major large muscle groups. So, if you're looking for a way to switch up your normal lifting routine, try a kettlebell class. Working on kettlebell-specific movements is a great way to build strength, increase muscularity, and add to your range of motion for heavy compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. They are great for runners too, as many kettlebell exercises are centered through movement in the hamstrings and quads. Next time you're itching to try something new, go see for yourself. You might just love them.

Hopefully this short list has convinced you that group fitness can indeed be beneficial to your training. But if I still haven't won you over, go sign up for a class near you and see the results first hand. Your body will tell you everything you need to know.

–Jamie

Readers - Have you tried any of these types of workouts? Which one is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Jamie Walker is a personal trainer and co-founder of new fitness tool, SweatGuru. Prior to SweatGuru, Jamie co-owned and operated Fit Approach, a wildly popular San Francisco boot camp, blog, and online community whose "Sweat Pink" motto has inspired more than 5,000 global members and 20,000 monthly visitors to lead healthy lifestyles. Before she was bitten by the start-up bug, Jamie spent seven years in Silicon Valley working in high-tech corporate communications with enterprise software and consumer technology companies such as Salesforce.com, Workforce Software, Jigsaw, Blinx and others. A NASM and Yoga Alliance-certified instructor, food-loving vegan and avid ultra marathoner, Jamie's passion for health extends into everything she does. She has been featured in Forbes Woman, Trail Runner Nation, The San Francisco Chronicle, BlogTalk Radio and more. She is a featured speaker and yoga leader at conferences such as BlogHer, FitBloggin, IDEA World, and CapitalOne 360 Entrepreneurship classes. She is also an IDEA Fit Inspired Advisor. Jamie holds a degree in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

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