Yolanda Young-Dae used to get lost on a regular basis looking for the intersection of fitness and fun.
She tried to find her way in aerobics classes, with personal trainers and in several different gyms. None of them worked. Then one day she stumbled across a class where participants simply danced for an hour to up-tempo Latin music.
“After my first Zumba class I just wanted to keep going more and more,” Young-Dae said. “It’s very addicting.”
Now Young-Dae and her friend, Adita Weatherby, are certified instructors leading classes at the Tacoma Center YMCA and the Center at Norpoint.
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With the new year and the pursuit of fitness resolutions under way, Young-Dae offers a bit of wisdom she learned on her way to finding an exercise routine she loves.
“Make sure you are having fun,” she said. “You are less likely to quit if you are having fun.”
From aerials to Zumba, here are eight ideas for making exercise harder to quit in 2012:
1. Aerials silks
Dangling from the ceiling from long pieces of silk fabric isn’t just for Cirque du Soleil performers. It’s also a good workout, said Rachel Friedman, owner of Olympia’s Motion in Balance Sudio.
Friedman’s studio is the site of several small aerial silk classes led by performers from Olympia’s Tallhouse Arts Consortium.
While the classes might sound intimidating, Friedman said they are designed to ease people into the activity. Advanced classes also are offered.
Try it: Motion in Balance, Olympia, $105 for six weeks of classes, 360-556-2619, motioninbalance.biz.
2. Belly dancing
Kristen Tibbetts, a fitness instructor with almost 18 years experience, calls belly dancing “a gateway exercise.”
“It’s fun and helps people get comfortable and feel sexy about themselves,” Tibbetts said. “And a lot of times they move on to other exercises.”
Tibbetts starts teaching belly dancing classes at her Tacoma fitness studio, the Toy Box, this month. She also teaches pole dancing, chair fitness (lap dance fitness), yoga, hula hoop and Zumba classes.
“Belly dancing is a great fitness activity for building self confidence,” Tibbetts said.
Try it: The Toy Box, Tacoma, $35 per class or $40 per month, 253-861-5584, thetoybox.jigsy.com.
3. Drums Alive
Drums Alive is a workout geared for people of all ages, said Kristina Butorac, senior heath and wellbeing director at the Gig Harbor YMCA.
“It’s enticing for kids, males and females and closet drummers,” Butorac said. “It draws kids, I think, because it’s a task your mom might tell you not to do.”
The classes center around drumming with drumsticks on physio balls while moving to music.
According to drums-alive.com, Spanaway’s Body Fun Fitness (bodyfunfitness.com) is the only studio offering Drums Alive in Washington, however, the Gig Harbor YMCA has been offering classes for two years.
Try it: Gig Harbor YMCA, free for members, $10 with a member, $15 without a member, 253-853-9622, ymcapkc.org
Parkour is a noncompetitive sport where participants, called traceurs, use their agility and strength to overcome obstacles ranging from handrails to the walls of buildings. Advanced traceurs even leap from balconies.
Tyson Cecka of Parkour Visions says the sport is “a great test of fitness” but you don’t have to be supremely fit to get started. “It’s about personal progression,” he said. He has students as old as 68. Parkour Visions’ main operations are in Seattle, but classes are also offered in Tacoma.
Because parkour is designed to be done anytime and anywhere, Tacoma instructor Chris Pascual says some students progress out of regular classes while continuing to do the sport on their own.
Try it: Parkour Visions at Tacoma Crossfit, first class is free then $15 per class or $75-$95 per month, 253-310-1940, parkourvisions.org
5. Pole dancing
Don’t use the word “stripper” if you take one of Tibbetts’ pole dancing classes at the Toy Box.
“That’s a misconception we still have to deal with,” Tibbetts said. “We correct them. This is a sport and it’s a lot of fun.”
You don’t have to work out in undies and high heels, or remove clothes in these classes. You can wear whatever you want. Even your baggy 20-year-old sweats.
“Whatever makes you feel comfortable.” Tibbetts said.
Classes build strength and cardiovascular endurance, but don’t expect to find yourself hanging upside-down on the pole in your first class. “That’s advanced pole sport. You have to work your way up to that,” Tibbetts said.
Men are not allowed in classes because the women tend to not want them there, and the men “tend to get distracted,” Tibbetts said. However, Tibbetts does set up classes for men and couples.
Tibbetts says most students prefer classes to be small, so the Toy Box has just five poles.
Try it: The Toy Box, Tacoma, $35 per class or $40 per month, 253-861-5584, thetoybox.jigsy.com
6. SUP Fitness
Chris Fry boasts the largest workout studio in Western Washington. All of his classes take place on Puget Sound aboard floating surfboard-like standup paddleboards. On these floating boards, participants can take part in core strengthening, yoga and even cardio classes. Yes, you’ll get wet if you make a wrong move, but Fry says participants rarely fall in the Sound.
“It’s a stoke,” said Fry, who started teaching standup paddleboard fitness classes early in 2011. “It’s so much better than the gym.”
Try it: West Bay Paddleboards, Olympia, $20-30, 360-584-0582, westbaypaddleboards.com.
If flying through the air with the greatest of ease freaks you out a little bit, you are worrying about the wrong thing.
“Don’t worry about the fear,” said Gary Kirkland, owner of Seattle’s Emerald City Trapeze. “Worry about the addiction.”
Kirkland’s business, emeraldcitytrapeze.com, draws regular participants from Tacoma and Olympia.
Kirkland says people get hooked on trapeze for several reasons. First, it’s a good workout “that will get you in shape and stretch you out.” Second, it’s fun.
“Who wants to ride a (stationary) bike to nowhere?” Kirkland said. “This is a more enjoyable way to get fit and stay fit.”
In addition to aerial silks, performers from Olympia’s Tallhouse Arts Consortium teach small trapeze classes at Motion in Balance. Many of the classes keep participants close to the ground.
Try it: Motion in Balance, $105 for six-week class, Olympia, 360-556-2619, motioninbalance.biz.
Zumba addicts will tell you that their classes feel more like a party than a workout.
“People always leave class for the first time asking, ‘It’s over already?’” said Butorac, who says more and more men are starting to participate in Zumba at the Gig Harbor YMCA. “It is so much fun.”
Young-Dae says most people stick with the workout because it focuses on fun and keeps you motivated.
“Some people are a little nervous that they aren’t going to do it right,” Young-Dae said.
“I like to say there are no mishaps in Zumba, there is only independent stardom. If you are doing something different than everybody else it’s OK.”
Try it: Zumba is offered at just about any South Sound gym. One example: Center at Norpoint, free for members, $5 drop-in, Tacoma, 253-591-5504, metroparkstacoma.org.