Flash Dance

Aerobic dance has been a mainstay of health club aerobics and home exercise tapes for many years. Ranging from high impact (lots of jumping) to low impact (no jumping), a good aerobics class is a fun way to work your upper and lower body. Like spin classes, the instructor cranks the tunes and tries to motivate participants to push a bit harder than they could push themselves. However, the good teachers will make sure that you're working at a pace comfortable for you.


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Many of the early aerobic dance tapes and classes contained countless contraindicated movements. In fact they're not perfect today either. Look for classes and tapes taught by certified instructors—not dancers.

About 10 years ago, another variation of the basic aerobics classes, called step aerobics, hit the scene. This class uses a step that you hop up and down on to get your heart rate up. There are two different step heights to choose from; the higher the step, the more intense the exercise.

One of the temptations when you first take one of these classes is to try to keep up with the Joneses. Resist that urge and go at your own pace. Often the pace of the class is just too fast, even if you've been running and working out with weights. If you find that you're huffing and puffing so hard that you're thinking about pulling the fire alarm, throttle back. Don't just stop. This will cause blood to pool in your legs. Instead, alter your movements. For example, if the instructor wants jumping, you can hop from side to side at a comfortable pace.

The second important thing to remember is hydration, hydration, and hydration! You should drink 8 to 16 ounces of water 30 to 60 minutes before exercise, 4 to 10 ounces of water every 15 minutes during your workout, and 8 to 16 ounces of water after exercise. Doing strenuous exercise in a hot, smallish room will have you sweating like you're in a sauna.

As we've pointed out many times, exercising without proper hydration is like moving lead weight. Take it from Deidre, who for some reason has shunned drinking pure water for most of her life. (She's happy to drink coffee, soda, or juice, but the pure stuff isn't her cup of tea.) Even though she drinks more water now, there are days that she forgets. When this happens, she can be on a modest five-mile run and suddenly feel as if she's slogging through mud. Her breathing becomes labored, and her concentration is shot. "Why do I feel so awful?" she wonders, until it hits her like a waterfall—drats, forgot the water.



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