When your goal is to shed fat, the number of calories you'll burn in a group exercise class matters. How many calories an individual will burn depends on many variables, including body weight and genetics; but a good rule of thumb is that the more intense the workout, the more calories you'll burn. See how your favorite class measures up.
Low-intensity classes feature steady activity. They are typically low-impact and don't include bursts of intense activity. You should expect your heart rate to remain steady throughout the class. Low-intensity classes usually have less impact on joints and bones. They’re a good choice for people with health problems who need to take it easy.
Some examples of low-intensity activities include low-impact aerobics, low-impact step aerobics and water aerobics. In these types of classes, a 125-pound person will burn between 240 and 420 calories, a 155-pound person will burn between 298 and 520 calories, and a 185-pound person will burn between 356 and 622 calories in an hour-long class.
High-intensity classes are more physically demanding than low-intensity classes. They may include running, jumping and periods of very intense activity. Many high-intensity classes include interval training, in which you work very hard for a short period of time, then work at a slower pace to recover for a short period of time. You can expect your heart rate to remain elevated throughout class, with some variation between moderate and high.
Examples of high-intensity classes include high-impact aerobics, indoor cycling, kickboxing and circuit training. These classes can burn between 420 and 630 calories for a person weighing 125 pounds, between 520 and 782 calories for a person weighing 155 pounds, and 622 to 932 calories for a person weighing 185 pounds.
Yoga and Pilates classes focus on stretching and strengthening, but they also burn calories. An hour of Pilates will burn between 142 calories if you weigh 125 pounds, 176 calories if you weigh 155 pounds, and 210 calories if you weigh 185 pounds.
Yoga comes in so many varieties that it is very difficult to estimate calorie burn. Gentler Hatha-style classes that focus on stretching don't burn as many calories -- about 240 per hour for a person weighing 125 pounds and 356 calories for a person weighing 185 pounds.
More vigorous yoga styles such as power vinyasa and ashtanga yoga can burn considerably more calories per hour -- over 500 -- because they move at a faster pace.
So Many Variables
Keep in mind that these are only estimates. To get a more accurate read, wear a fitness monitor during class to see how much you burn. Remember that you get out what you put into a class. You can work very hard in a low-impact aerobics class and burn more calories than you would if you put in less effort in a high-intensity class. If your goal is shedding fat, give every class your all.