You may think step aerobics are a thing of the past, but think again. Although leotards and spandex may no longer be part of the equation (unless you’re desperately hanging on to the 90’s), step aerobics are alive and well. You can find women sweating along to DVD’s at home or with other steppers in classes across the country.
Step aerobics are a fun and entertaining way to improve your cardiovascular endurance, strengthen your heart, lungs and legs, and give your balance and coordination a good challenge. If you love to dance, move, sweat and have a great time, step aerobics may be exactly what you’ve been looking for. Whether you’re looking to renew your relationship with step aerobics or you’re a first-time stepper, we’ve got you covered with this all-inclusive beginner’s guide.
The Benefits of Step Aerobics
Do you know the best aspect of step aerobics? You only need a step, just one, and you have yourself a full-body workout tool. We all know steps work our legs, thighs and hips but you can also get creative and use them for your core and upper body as well.
High-impact weight bearing activities like step aerobics are also great for your skeleton. Eighty percent of individuals suffering from some form of osteoporosis are women, which means we ladies need to start giving our bones a little more loving. In addition to a healthy diet, step aerobics and other similar activities are the most effective way to ensure we’re not fragile little china dolls when we’re older.
Weight Loss and Fat Burning Potential
As you step your way to stronger bones, you’ll also be stepping your way to a sleeker version of yourself. You can burn a pretty significant amount of calories using that handy little step. Numbers range from 260 to 370 calories for 30 minutes of stepping.
Of course, the actual amount you obliterate will completely depend on how much you commit to the aerobics. If you play it safe and keep it slow and low-impact, you’ll be on the lower end. If, however, you take it to the step and give it all you’ve got – high-intensity and high-impact – you’ll send that fat to the incinerator.
Toning and Muscle Building Potential
Hauling your body repeatedly on and off your step virtually guarantees you’re going to see some improvement in muscle tone and definition. The act of stepping requires work from you quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Throw in some side-steps, jumps, kicks and lunges and you’ll also be hitting your inner thighs, calves and hips.
Some classes will incorporate hand weights for added resistance. The greater the overload on your muscles, the better they’ll respond – resulting in stronger and more toned gams. Yes, please!
Classes: What to expect; should I take them?
Unless you like being the crazy person jamming out in the aerobics room by yourself, you should definitely join a stepping class. If you’re more of a homebody, there are plenty of workout DVD’s to choose from to become a master stepper in the comfort of your own living room.
Step aerobics class will provide you with an energizing and fun workout. The instructor will lead you through a series of different step and move combinations. Don’t be intimated about missing a step or messing up – everyone has been there at some point. Oh, and you can also expect to sweat to some sweet tunes.
Instructional Step Aerobics Videos and Training Tips
To get you started on the right path to becoming a stepping queen, we’ve come up with a handful of useful and instructional videos – they should offer a gentle introduction into the world of step aerobics.
–Warm up prior to your workout. Whether it’s gentle, low-impact movements on your step or an easy walk on the treadmill, get those legs ready for action.
–Let the instructor know you’re new to step aerobics so that he/she can ensure you have a positive experience.
-Start stepping with your step at the lowest setting. As you become more accustomed to the movements and your strength and coordination improves, go ahead and gradually increase the height of the step.
-Keep your head up and posture erect during your workout. Bend from the ankles and knees rather than the waist to prevent excess stress on the lower back.
-It’s OK if you get lost, just keep moving.
-Be sure to place the entire foot on the step when stepping up and on the floor when stepping down. Landing only on your toes or allowing your heels to hang off of the step could result in excess stress to the foot and, possibly, injury to the Achilles tendon.
–Get your feet in the game before you worry about incorporating the arm movements.
-Do not use music with tempos above 128 beats per minute. Going too fast greatly increases your chance of injury.
Clothes and Proper Attire
What should one wear for step aerobics? Remember that leotard and spandex I mentioned earlier? Just kidding. But, seriously. If you love spandex and leg warmers, have at it. Otherwise you can opt for boring workout leggings and top.
Cross-trainers would be a good choice for your feet. Find something with minimal bulk but enough cushion to protect your feet from the continuous impact and support to prevent ankle sprains.