Tips for Yoga, Pilates, Spinning™, and Cross-Fit

These tips for Yoga, Pilates, SpinningTM, and Cross-Fit are from Janet Lee, the deputy editor of Shape magazine. She explains the advantages and disadvantages of each of these exercise routines, which can help you decide which workout is best for you.

“Exercise doesn’t have to be drudgery and doesn’t have to be in a gym,” says Lee. “If you find something you enjoy doing – such as dance, tennis, volleyball, or martial arts – it won’t feel like work. Simply being more active in general-not necessarily going to the gym-will improve your health.”

For extra fitness and weight loss motivation, click on the The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga Workout. And, read on for Lee’s advantages and disadvantages of Yoga, Pilates, SpinningTM, and Cross-Fit…

Tips for Yoga, Pilates, Spinning™, and Cross-Fit

Three of the best “tried and true” fitness trends that show no signs of slowing down are yoga, Pilates, and group-cycling or SpinningTM classes. And, Cross-Fit is a new trend that’s quickly becoming more popular.

The Advantages of Yoga

Yoga improves strength and flexibility, which are two key components of overall fitness. (Pilates workouts do the same, and improve core strength as well – which is key for performance). Yoga decreases stress, which is so important today, when there’s so much anxiety about the economy, jobs, homes, money, etc. Yoga also improves your strength while increasing your range of motion, so you feel stronger and more fluid. For more yoga info, read 7 Beginners’ Yoga Tips and YogaToes.

The Disadvantages of Yoga

While yoga increases strength, you’re not continually adding weight so you won’t continue to see muscular changes. That comes through increasing the weight and changing the volume of training. If you’re over 30, and especially over 40, you need to participate in a progressive strength-training program to keep your metabolism elevated and ward off muscle loss. Despite terms like power yoga, yoga is not cardio. Studies show that it doesn’t elevate your heart rate high enough for a long enough time or burn enough calories to classify as “cardio.”
The Advantages of Pilates

A Pilates workout is a fantastic way to strengthen your core muscles, which support and stabilize your spine, which can help prevent injury and improve performance.  Pilates workouts are also a creative way to change a weight routine, especially if you take reformer sessions. Reformers use springs to increase resistance and challenge muscles. Pilates exercises are also good for increasing your flexibility. For more Pilates tips, read 7 Tips for Working Out With Pilates Fitness DVDs.

The Disadvantages of Pilates

Pilates workouts are very precise and methodical, and can become tedious if your teacher has you do the same moves time and time again. While you can always improve a move, the changes can be very subtle and Type-A exercisers may get bored! A good teacher will add new equipment and exercises to challenge both your brain and your body. Also, while mat classes are free at most gyms and clubs (you can also find DVDs with Pilates workouts), reformer sessions are pricey. To save money, partner with a friend or two and ask for a group session.

The Advantages of Group Cycling or SpinningTM

Group-cycling or SpinningTM increases your cardio fitness, which directly improves your health. More and more research points to the benefits of vigorous exercise in improving health and decreasing mortality.

Interval training – which is part of group-cycling or SpinningTM – is one of the most effective ways to improve your fitness level and burn fat and calories. A good instructor will change up the classes and music and offer motivational tips so each session is fun, interesting and effective. And, you can control your intensity on the bike by adjusting the tension, so you can always go at your own pace. For more fat burning tips, read 10 Workouts That Boost Your Metabolism.

The Disadvantages of Group Cycling or SpinningTM

There are so many mediocre (if not poor) instructors out there! You may have to try out classes at a few different times before you find an instructor you like. And, it’s easy to overdo it in group cycling, especially if you’re a beginner. Doing too many intense workouts weekly can lead to overtraining, which will reverse the benefits you’re seeing and could lead to injury. Doing too much of the same workout, no matter what it is, can overwork muscles and create imbalances and weaknesses. It’s always a good idea to cross-train to avoid over-emphasizing any muscle group.

New Fitness Trend: Cross-Fit Training

One trend I see become very big is very high-intensity strength workouts, such as Cross-Fit. It’s similar to bootcamp; you’re doing dozens of squats, lunges, plyometrics, push-ups, crunches, etc.

The Advantages of Cross-Fit

Cross-Fit is very effective at strengthening muscles and burning calories, and the competitive group atmosphere provides built-in motivation. Many people need that extra push to really challenge themselves.

The Disadvantages of Cross-Fit

While this strength and cardio workout is great way to challenge your body and change up your program, it’s very easy to overdo it the first few times. Some of these classes seem specifically designed to push people to their absolute limit-and beyond. As a result, people end up being extremely sore for several days, which can turn off some exercisers. Others have worked so hard, they end up in the hospital or otherwise injure themselves. While it’s possible to take just about any form of exercise to the extreme, Cross-Fit makes it easier to overdo it. Plus, some instructors are more focused on inflicting pain than in improving clients’ fitness level in a safe, healthy way. Choose your instructor very carefully.

To stay motivated to do any exercise routine, read The 10 Best Reasons to Exercise Your Body.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about Yoga, Pilates, Spinning™, or Cross-Fit? Please comment below…

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4 thoughts on “Tips for Yoga, Pilates, Spinning™, and Cross-Fit”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    The advantages of yoga are far-reaching and long-lasting! Here’s what I found out about how yoga helps you relax and sleep better, from a website called

    Yoga benefits your sleep in many ways. The quality of your sleep improves because of the stimulatory effect yoga has on the nervous system — especially the brain. The practice of certain yoga postures will increase the blood circulation to the sleep center in the brain, which helps you sleep better.

    According to this yoga website, you’ll also need less sleep because yoga increases the elimination of toxins from the body and rejuvenates your cells. The practice of breathing allows for more oxygen in the body providing clarity in the mind. (I’m not sure how this leads to less sleep – unless it’s just because yoga energizes you, which makes you need less sleep).

    This yoga website also says that for every minute you put into yoga you will need one minute less sleep!

    Yoga is relaxing, and relieves stress, tension and fatigue — which not only helps you sleep, it improves your overall health.

    If you have any other questions on yoga, pilates, or spinning, feel free to ask them here!


  2. I am currently enrolled in a Yoga class, and find many health benefits. I am more relaxed and I can sleep well at night. Why is this?

  3. This article, I believe misinform people of yoga practices. If you’ve ever tried Ashtanga yoga, it is a great cardio workout. Yoga has so many different types and I think that it should be specified as to which yoga classes she is referring to. Yoga= relaxation seems to be the biggest misconception.