When you’re working to lose weight, you want to get the most from every workout. With so many group fitness class options at every gym and boutique studio, it can be hard to know which one will give you the most calorie bang for your sweat buck.
Check out the six classes below, offered throughout the U.S. Each is known to ignite your metabolism during and after the workout, so you get even more calorie-burning benefits. Try them out and burn, baby, burn.
Burn factor: 400 to 500 calories in 1 hour
If you’ve ever thought barre class was just ballet, think again. A reasonably fit, 125-pound woman burns about 400 calories in a typical beginner/intermediate Bar Method class, says the chain’s vice president of teacher development, Kiesha Ramey-Presner. That same woman will burn upwards of 500 calories in a more advanced format. And then add another 100 calories burned after class from the buildup of lactic acid.
How does it do all of this? The Bar Method format uses intervals — strength work followed by stretching — to spark your heart rate and then allow you to recover, Ramey-Presner explains. Though not as intense as HIIT, it works your heart in a similar manner to burn calories. “The classes also intensely target the quads within the first 20 minutes,” Ramey-Presner adds. “The quads are the largest muscle group in the body, and working them helps you burn calories more efficiently for the rest of the day.”
If you can’t bring yourself to the studio, check out this list of 5 Barre Moves You Can Do at Home.
READ MORE > WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN TRYING A NEW CLASS [INFOGRAPHIC]
Burn factor: 500 to 700 calories in 45 minutes
There’s a reason this pack of skull-and-crossbones-wearing fanatics is so fit. Spend one class vigorously cycling and dancing on your bike and you’ll burn an average 500 to 700 calories.
Although every instructor formats his or her class differently, you can expect alternating between faster (often referred to as “double time”) and slower paces. Explains SoulCycle instructor Ryan Lewis: “This switch between a fast pace with a low resistance and a slow pace with a high resistance for a climb has a similar effect on your heart rate as HIIT training, ultimately allowing the body to maximize how many calories are burned.”
Learn more about spin bikes in our Spinning 101 infographic.
Burn factor: 500 to 1,000 calories in 1 hour
Orangetheory Fitness uses heart-rate monitors to help you see which “zone” you are in, i.e. how hard you are working during class. The more you’re in the orange zone, the more you’ll burn during and after class — to the tune of 500–1,000 calories during class, and more for up to 36 hours, the chain claims.
The class is split up into intervals on the treadmill and rowing machine, and on the floor doing exercises with weights, bodyweight and a TRX. You’ll hit every body part and get your cardio and strength done in one workout. For more background, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Orangetheory Fitness.
Burn factor: Up to 1,000+ calories in 1 hour
Although each class focuses on a specific body area, the format for Barry’s stays the same: Half the time you’re on a treadmill, the other half you’re doing strength exercises on the floor with your bodyweight, dumbbells or a “booty band” exercise band. The treadmill is a mixed bag of sprints, hill climbs, hill sprints and even walking backward on the treadmill, and the instructors will encourage you to push yourself.
The chain claims its classes increase lean body mass, which can raise your resting metabolic rate by up to 15 percent. And that means more burn after you leave the studio. Check out our test run at Barry’s Bootcamp and see if it’s for you.
Burn factor: 261 calories in 20 minutes for the Cindy WOD
The CrossFit WOD (workout of the day) changes, clearly, daily. And it can be quite a calorie burner in a short period of time. Researchers asked seven men and two women trained in CrossFit to perform the Cindy workout: 5 pullups, 10 pushups and 15 air squats, repeated as many times as possible in 20 minutes. The average calorie burn for the group was 261 calories. Study author Brian Kliszczewicz, PhD, says there are a few reason CrossFit can burn a torcher.
“First, the majority of CrossFit workouts involve full body,” he explains. “As a general rule, the more muscle recruitment, the greater the caloric expenditure. Second, the majority of the exercises involve resistance, such as bodyweight in the case of Cindy. Resistance-based exercise commonly leads to greater excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, i.e. more calories. Third, perhaps the most important aspect is the intensity of the workout. The greater the exercise intensity, the greater the caloric burn is going to be.”
URBANKICKSASS AT CRUNCH FITNESS
Burn factor: Up to 700 calories in 45 minutes
Offered at Crunch locations nationwide, this dynamic, full-body class combines cardio kickboxing with high-intensity sports conditioning drills. You punch, kick, squat, sprint, lunge and more, and you’re sweating within minutes, says certified trainer Shane Barnard, creator of the class (and regular MyFitnessPal contributor).
“Combining punch and kick combinations with high-intensity interval training drills improves fat metabolism, increases functional strength and will increase your caloric after-burn,” she explains. It’s also nonstop movement, with options to make several exercises more challenging.