Back to Basics: Benefits of Step Aerobics and how to Make it Better

If you’re a product of the 80’s, or anything older, you probably remember when Step Aerobics came around. Even if you were too young to think about fitness back then, it was all over the television and making huge waves at gyms around the world. Nearly three decades later, it may see outdated, but step aerobics could be making a huge comeback.

Even today, if you go to Planet Fitness or any other major chain of workout stations, you’re likely to find a few of those rubber-plated, plastic steppers lying around. I’ve seen more and more gyms bringing back their hour-long step aerobics classes, as well.

Step Aerobics

Benefits of Step Aerobics

Although it doesn’t offer a full-body workout in its traditional form—more on ways to fix that in a moment—step aerobics is an excellent form of cardio that tones your thighs, calves and glutes. A standard one-hour step aerobics class burns about 500-600 calories.

Picture Silvester Stallone in “Rocky”, running up and down those steps. The fitness step can offer the exact same results, but with more versatility, and for anywhere from $25-$90 (depending on brand and quality), you can have one in your home.

It’s not all about stepping up and stepping down, either. Doing that for an hour would be painfully boring. Fitness instructors have come up with all sorts of ways to use the fitness step, mostly by incorporating various dance moves into their routine.

There are basic steps to the left and right, “v-steps” that involve a little more coordination and burn, as well as other choreographed moves to mix things up. In fact, it’s not only a great form of cardio and lower body exercise, it’s also an excellent way to keep your brain active.

Getting More from Step Aerobics

One concern among today’s more modern fitness gurus is that step aerobics doesn’t work enough of the body to spend a full hour doing it. In its original form, yes, that’s true. Although many of the dance-style moves do incorporate arm movement, it’s not enough to really build the upper body.

That can easily be remedied by integrating other fitness techniques, and because of the dance-style techniques going on below, it’s easy to get a synchronized rhythm going for the lower and upper body.

Personally, I like bringing hand weights into the equation. You can move your arms to the left when your feet go right, and vice versa to maximum muscle extension, and extend your arms out and in to work the chest and shoulders.

A good friend of mine came up with a unique idea, utilizing a medicine ball to optimize her workout for the abdominals as well.

All in all, if you thought a step aerobics class looked a bit ridiculous—kind of like a group of synchronized dancers who didn’t know whether they were going up or down—you can imagine just how much more absurd it might look with a medicine ball or hand weights mixed into the routine. But as far as achieving a productive, full-body workout, and one that can be easily and inexpensively done at home, step aerobics isn’t a bad idea at all.

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