Jessa Rosenthal is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
Cal Poly Recreation Center, or the Rec, offers a variety of different workout classes. Students can expect classes from four different categories: mind & body, cardio, strength & tone and cross-training.
With over a dozen classes, it can be hard to decide which workout class is for you. These past couple of weeks I made it a goal to go to every free, in person class at the rec.
This is my honest review of each class:
Mind & Body Classes
Vinyasa is your typical yoga class. Throughout the entire class, you will build on to a seamless flow while incorporating breath work into your moves. I found it to be relaxing while simultaneously working my muscles enough to feel a stretch and tone.
Yoga can be scary if you have no idea what you’re doing, but I found the instructors to be clear in their cues and always offered modifications. With relaxing music and movements, I highly recommend this class after a long day of classes to decompress or early in the morning in place of caffeine.
I wish I could use Yin Yoga every morning to wake myself up. Yin Yoga was a slower yoga practice.
We started the class laying down with our legs in butterfly position on top of a pillow. We stayed like that for a couple of minutes letting our breath move through our body. We stayed on the mat for the entire class and never stood as we made our way through the slow flow. Each stretch was very minor, but we held it for a long time in order to feel it in each one of our joints. I wouldn’t describe this class as a workout, but rather a meditative stretch that really allowed me to center myself before I went on with my day.
I was skeptical of Hatha Yoga at first. I’m not one for slow workouts, but once I was finished with the class I was more rejuvenated than I’ve ever felt.
For the first part of the class we sat on yoga mats, focusing on breath work and posture. Then, we slowly moved to poses for the rest of the class. Compared to every other yoga class I’ve done, I’d say we held the poses the longest, focusing on how our breath felt in the pose. While breathing was the main focus, I definitely felt the burn while trying to maintain good posture in each one of the poses.
The instructor was incredibly knowledgeable about yoga and cued each pose using the traditional sanskrit language. This was confusing at first, but by looking around at the more experienced people in the class I was able to figure out what to do. Like Yin, this isn’t necessarily a workout, but more of a meditative practice that is perfect to decompress the mind.
This class was the exact same as Vinyasa Yoga. The only difference was that we held the stretches a little bit longer and the class was more focused on stretching and stability than what I’ve noticed in Vinyasa. At the end of the class, I asked the instructor if there is a difference between Yoga Flow and Vinyasa and she said they’re pretty much the same.
Strength & Tone
I recommend getting to Body Pump around 15 minutes early in order to secure a spot and weights — it was packed!
In the beginning of the class, I was a bit confused, but 10 or 15 minutes in I started to understand the cues. We used barbells and removable weights to customize how heavy we wanted to lift. Sets included squats, deadlifts, chest presses, curls and more.
This was a hard class. My muscles were burning the entire time. While it is a whole body workout, I felt soreness the next day in my upper body. I usually leave weight lifting out of my workout routine because I don’t know how to do it, but after this class I feel more confident to attempt on my own.
This class was a great, low impact workout! Barre incorporated small movements that seemed to be easy at first, but by the time I got to the final reps, my body felt like jello.
The whole foundation of this workout stems from dance/ballet. The instructor uses dance terminology to cue your next move. This means they’ll tell you to go on releve, or put your feet in first position. In addition, you don’t really get to do the workouts in this class at your own speed because everything is to the beat of the music playing.
Personally, I found this to be really fun because you’re focusing on the music, not the workout. Light weights were used because of the short, subtle movements. Moves you can expect are pulses in squats, hammer curlers with pulses, subtle ab movements and more. While cardio is somewhat incorporated in this class because the movements get faster, there is nothing high impact so it is great if you’re looking for a bit of a calmer workout, but still want to feel a burn.
While this class was really fun, I wouldn’t recommend it to those who are newer to yoga. I was expecting this class to be similar to Sculpt Yoga, but I was wrong. There were very little cardio elements and all strength training came from holding poses. I’ve gone to a few yoga classes and know the basics, but I was a bit lost during this class. It was like fast paced yoga.
Poses weren’t held as long as I’m used to in Vinyasa Yoga and we incorporated a lot of acrobatics including balances, inversions/handstands, backbends and more. I had fun attempting all of these moves, but I was definitely falling all over the place, hopefully not distracting the class. If you’re someone who does yoga regularly and are looking to up their practice I’d recommend Power Flow.
6 Pack Abs
The only way I can describe this class is burning. At only thirty minutes, this is the shortest class offered at the rec but is just as intense as all the others. Thirty minutes with no break is a long time to only focus on abs. In the class I went to, we used an exercise ball for the majority of our poses. Moves included planks, hollow holds, sit ups, crunches, pulses, russian twists and more. Nothing out of the ordinary, but everything will make your abs sore the next day
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a fun, full body cardio and strength training workout set to upbeat music. I’ve been to a couple HIIT classes now and they’re all run about the same.
The class begins with a short warm up and then moves into the first set. There will be three sets total and you do each set twice. In each set, there are five different workouts that last 50 seconds. From what I’ve noticed, one set is primarily upper body, the next lower and the last is a little bit of both. There’s a small break between each set as the instructor describes the next one, but for the most part you will be working hard the entire class.
Sculpt is probably the workout I’m most familiar with. Think vigorous yoga with cardio bursts. The class is designed to stretch, tone, and strengthen the entire body while incorporating the calming yoga flow we know and love.
In this class, you’ll use hand weights in order to up your practice. I would describe this class to be similar to HIIT with the amount of cardio and strength training there is, but the yoga element is definitely there. Like all yoga classes, sculpt ends with savasana, or corpse pose, which is when you lay on your back at the end of practice in a meditative head space. This relaxing ending will calm your heartbeat, making you forget how hard the class was so you’ll want to come back for more.
If you’ve never taken a spin class before, you’re in for a treat. I’d recommend getting to the class around 15 minutes early in order to secure a spot, as bikes fill up fast. Spin is really hard, but it is ultimately up to you how fast you want to peddle and how much resistance you choose to give yourself. Expect to feel the workout in your legs.
On the bike, you switch off sprinting and climbing (butt out of the seat) for different time lengths at different resistant levels. I don’t think I could get through spin if it weren’t for the fun music.
High Fitness was another one of those endorphin releasing classes. While this was an exhausting, cardio filled workout, it was also super fun because we were dancing to fun throwbacks the entire time.
The class was a total of around 17 “tracks.” Each track had choreographed, high intensity moves to a fun song guaranteed to make you sweat. There was maybe a 5-10 second break between each track, but a longer break about 30 minutes into the class. I can’t even describe the moves we did in the class because they were all dance inspired, but in all it was so much fun.
Body combat was an action packed, cardio filled class that left me dripping in sweat. We spent the entire hour on our feet, bouncing around (and for someone with shin splints, I was in a bit of pain).
The class was broken into a warm up where we learned the moves we’d use throughout the class, then five different “tracks” which were choreographed combinations of body combat moves set to upbeat music. These included jabs, upper cuts, kicking, shuffling, knee jabs and more.
We had a small break in between each track to get some water, but I definitely spent the entirety of this class out of breath. Then we had a cool down that incorporated a nice stretch. If you’re looking for a self defense class, this isn’t it. However if you want a fun, high energy class that will leave you feeling powerful, go to Body Combat!
Hip Hop & Heels
I’m not a dancer nor do I own dancing heels, so the idea of this class really intimidated me. Fortunately, I ended up loving it so much! Heels weren’t even necessary — no one was wearing them — and this class left me feeling confident and sexy.
We started the class with a dynamic, dance-inspired warm up, then went straight into choreography. The dance we learned was sexual and premiscious, which felt awkward at first, but ended up being really fun.
The instructor was amazing at choreographing the moves, so they were easy to do, but looked great while performing. After learning the dance, we split into groups to perform for each other. When the instructor first told us we’d be doing that, I was terrified, but everyone in the class was so encouraging and welcoming.
No dance experience is necessary with this class. Regardless of your skill level, you’ll have a blast. If you’re looking for a confidence booster and a different sort of cardio class, I recommend Hip Hop & Heels.
Aqua fit, or water aerobics, was euphoric. According to the instructor, it usually takes place in the vortex of the leisure pool, but in the class I went to, we did it in the deep end of the lap pool using flotation devices.
I didn’t expect to feel a workout in this class, but my abs and legs ended up burning. While it wasn’t necessarily the hardest workout, it was one of the funnest. On a hot day, this is the perfect class if you’re looking for a low impact exercise.
My consensus is that every single one of these classes is worth your time. Some are designed to strengthen your muscles, others are more meditative and some are just fun to do.
There wasn’t a single class I regret going to and, considering these classes are free to all students, I recommend everyone try them out.
The workout class schedule can be accessed via the ASI Access app. First click “group fitness” then “view fitness calendar” to find the classes. The schedule changes every quarter.