Zumba instructor will taking a selfie with his class. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.
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I spent a week trying USFSP fitness classes and you should too

Getting back into a gym routine after a long break can feel like an insurmountable task. Especially when you have projects, tests and assignments piling up. It’s easy as a student to feel overwhelmed and stressed. However, working out in a group is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. A survey of 1.2 million adults found that people who participate in group fitness had fewer days of poor mental health than those who exercised alone.

Money is no excuse if you’re a USFSP student. Access to the gym and its group fitness classes are included in your tuition. Lack of time is also not a valid excuse as fitness classes are as short as 30 minutes. All you need to participate in a group fitness class is your USF ID and an optional bottle of water. Workout mats, dumbbells and all other equipment are provided.

Not sure which class to start with? This guide will walk you through four different group fitness classes so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

Tuesday: Powerflow Yoga. 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Author Carrie Pinkard anticipating a week packed with fitness. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.

Author Carrie Pinkard anticipating a week packed with fitness. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.

What I learned: Sometimes all you have left in you is a three-minute long child’s pose, and that’s ok.

What I loved: The spritz of lavender oil the teacher puts in your hand as your laying down post-workout.

Though it’s tempting to Namaste in bed for the evening, spending your happy hour at Powerflow Yoga on a Tuesday is far more rewarding. As a student, you probably spend most of your day hunched over a laptop completing your assignments. Your muscles are likely screaming to be stretched.

Powerflow Yoga is done in a dimly lit room so you don’t have to be self-conscious of your downward dog looking more like a —. You can take this class at your own pace. The instructor shows you ways to modify each movement to make it easier. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, you will get a thorough sweat from following the unmodified movements. You spend a lot of time in plank position, which strengthens your shoulders, arms and entire core.  

Wednesday: Zumba 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

What I learned: I physically can’t shimmy.

What I loved: Dancing to Beyoncé with a group of students I otherwise wouldn’t have met.

Zumba is arguably the most fun exercise class offered at USFSP. You do NOT have to be a good dancer in order to participate.

Will, the Wednesday night Zumba instructor, breaks his class into half cardio and half strength training. He says he doesn’t focus heavily on the choreography and instead focuses on getting your heart rate up and your muscles toned. The moves are easy to keep up with, and the music is guaranteed to keep you motivated.         

Thursday: Core Strength and Sculpt. 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Core Strength and Sculpt. focuses on donkey kicks, planks and bicycle crunches. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.

Core Strength and Sculpt. focuses on donkey kicks, planks and bicycle crunches. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.

What I learned: It’s important to constantly check your form in the mirror as it’s easy to slip out of it when doing many reps.

What I loved: This class gives you the illusion of instant results. I left the class feeling more toned than I did a half hour earlier, which left me feeling more confident for the rest of the day.

This is a shorter class, so it seems to fly by quickly. The exercises are all done on a mat, and pop music plays in the background as you do high repetitions of core and glute toning exercises.

You complete one round of the exercises, take a water break and then complete them again. The workout focuses on donkey kicks, planks and bicycle crunches. You start off by doing them slowly, then quickly, then even quicker through pulses. After just two rounds, your muscles are already burning. This workout class is sufficient on its own, but it would also be a great warm up to weight lifting in the gym as it activates all your muscles.

Friday: MOVE IT 12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.

MOVE IT exercises included carrying sandbags back and forth across the room, elevated pushups and walking planks. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.

MOVE IT exercises included carrying sandbags back and forth across the room, elevated pushups and walking planks. Photo courtesy of Carrie Pinkard/Connect.

What I learned: My ramen noodle arms can only handle five pushups.

What I loved: Moving from station to station with a workout partner. It kept me motivated and made me push myself harder.

When you glance into Studio B at the MOVE IT set up, you’ll probably want to run home and hide in bed instead. There is A LOT of equipment laid out that looks intimidating.

MOVE IT is a circuit based workout where you complete different exercise stations in 45-second intervals. The first set of circuits focuses on the upper body. Exercises included carrying sandbags back and forth across the room, elevated pushups and walking planks. For the lower body circuits, exercises included weighted front squats, weaving in and out of an agility ladder and kettlebell swings.

Overall, MOVE IT is a very fun class. The instructor is always walking around helping you with your form or reminding you how to do an exercise. The 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off format allows you to push yourself harder because you know within a minute a break is coming up.

For a full schedule of group fitness classes, click here.

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