All About Group Fitness Classes |

All About Group Fitness Classes

Here's a look at the different kinds of fitness classes available in Abu Dhabi and what their benefits are.

Posted on

23 July 2013

Last updated on 29 May 2017
All About Group Fitness Classes

Group exercise has come a long way since the days of legwarmers, leotards and Jane Fonda. Nowadays you can find a huge variety of different classes, from barbell workouts, to high-intensity interval training workouts, yoga, Pilates and dance fitness classes. The sheer amount of them means that there is something to inspire everyone, even the most gym-phobic! However, this can also makes choosing the right class for you more of a mission.

Here we give a brief description and a guide to some of the Group Exercise classes that you may come across in Abu Dhabi

body pump dubai

BodyPump (TM Les Mills)
This is the original barbell workout which despite being around for over 20 years, continues to be a firm favourite with ladies and men alike, as the program has always kept up to date with the latest in training innovations. A full 60 minute class incorporates 10 different music tracks during each of which you do exercises with the barbell and weights to focus on a different muscle group. It is all choreographed to the latest music and the moves are fairly simple making it easy to follow and as you can vary your weights, it makes it suitable for all levels. 
Burns around 560* calories per hour

Key Benefits:
Gain strength and tone in muscle
Shapes and sculpt the body, giving nice definition to the body without bulking up.
Increases stamina and fitness levels
Gives sense of empowerment and achievement
Easy to progress

Best for: Shaping and toning the body

body attack dubai
BodyAttack (TM Les Mills)

This is a 45-60 minute pre-choreographed cardio class, using traditional aerobics moves as well as sports-inspired moves and strength conditioning exercises. It focusses on 4 dimensions – strength, stamina, speed and agility and is designed to push your limits whilst giving you a real ‘endorphin high’ to great pumping music. It is suitable for most people as options are given for lower intensity moves, however true beginners to exercise, may find this class a little tough and those prone to knee and ankle injury may need to ensure they take lower intensity options and avoid the jumping moves initially. Burns a whopping 735* calories per hour!

Key Benefits:
Increase cardiovascular fitness levels
Increase stamina and strength, particularly in lower body
Improves coordination and agility
No equipment required

Best for: Burning fat and increasing cardiovascular fitness

Body combat dubai

BodyCombat (TM Les Mills)
An energetic high intensity cardio class which draws its inspiration from mixed martial arts; Muay Thai, boxing, tai chi, karate, taekwondo. As a group you follow pre-choreographed routine to music, kicking, punching and chopping your way to fitness! Also incorporated is some strength conditioning moves to help increase strength and stamina also. A very ‘empowering’ class for ladies and a great stress buster at the end of the day!! Suitable for all levels and options are given. Burns on average a gigantic 737* calories per hour

Key benefits:
Good for cardiovascular fitness
Increase stamina and strength, particularly in upper body
Improves coordination
No equipment needed

Best for: General fitness and stress busting


RPM (TM Les Mills)
This is a 45 minute indoor stationary cycling class which takes you through a series of pre- choreographed tracks to challenge your fitness. Each track takes a different focus, using resistance and speed to mimic cycle racing challenges and different terrains, such as hill climbs, mountain peaks, pack racing and sprints. The music is inspiring and the instructors guide and motivate you through every stage ensuring you reach an endorphin high, sweat bucket loads and challenge your fitness levels to the maximum. Suitable for all fitness levels as able to vary the intensity through the speed and resistance. Average calorie burn of 675* in 45 mins making it very time efficient

Key Benefits:
Quickly increases cardio-vascular fitness levels
Interval training means fat blasting
Do not need to be ‘coordinated’ or learn any moves
Non-weight bearing so good for those who are overweight or have lower limb injuries

Best for: Time efficient calorie burning workout which is easy to follow


The original indoor stationary cycling class, which has been around for 20 years now, and over time has developed as have the bikes on which the class is conducted. Each class typically lasting around 45 mins to 1 hour and conducted to music with the choreography (resistance, speed, positioning) lead by the instructor. Suitable for all fitness levels as intensity easily variable. 

Key benefits:
Quickly increases cardio-vascular fitness levels
Burns heaps of calories each session
Interval training means fat blasting
Do not need to be ‘coordinated’ or learn any moves
Non-weight bearing so good for those who are overweight or have lower limb injuries

Best for: Calorie burning and improving fitness levels

Core ab workout dubai

Core / Abs / Abs Blaster / Corb
Typically a 30 minute class focussing on the muscles of the mid-section of the body – the core. The core comprises upper and lower abdominal muscles, oblique muscles which shape the waist as well as the lower back muscles and to some extent the hips also. You can expect your instructor to lead you through a gruelling variety of exercises designed to challenge these muscle groups to the limits which will help to make you strong and define the mid-section. Core strength is imperative if you want to be strong throughout the whole of the body. It is also associated with balance and coordination of the body parts and therefore added benefits include improved performance in daily tasks as well as in other group exercise classes. A strong core can also help to protect against back problems as it trains the muscles that supports the spine. People with existing back problems, however, should inform their instructors before beginning the class.

Key benefits:
Targeted specific training lead by expert instructors
Visible results, particularly in toning and defining the tummy and waist areas
Increased strength throughout the body, not just the core
Better posture
Strengthening of back and support around the spine

Best for: Tummy toning, best done in conjunction with other classes

core cx

CX Worx (TM Les Mills)
This is a relatively new 30 minute pre-choreographed core workout set to music. Typically each track will take focus on one or two of the major core muscle groups and some basic equipment (weights and resistance bands) may be used in some movements. Suitable for all levels, although those with back problems should inform their instructor before starting class.

Key benefits:
Pre-choreographed and scientifically researched
Targeted and specific training
Strengthens and tones all major muscles in the core
Visible results around tummy and waist

Best for: Tummy toning, best done in conjunction with other classes

Body Balance

BodyBalance (TM Les Mills)
A pre-choreographed class comprising elements of yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. Each class is made up of around 45 minute of challenging moves designed to work your core and other major muscle groups as well work on improving flexibility and posture. This is followed by around 10 minutes of relaxation and meditation to help centre and calm the body. Moves are performed to music and in coordination with breathing to balance and bring harmony to the body. Suitable for all ages and abilities with options given throughout the class to accommodate all different abilities.

Key benefits:
Improves strength, stamina and flexibility
Improves posture and alignment of body
Great for calming and de-stressing
Burns around 390 calories per hour on average

Best for: Gentle toning, strengthening and relaxing


Pilates can take many forms and there are therefore many types of Pilates classes available. Some are purely mat based and others which use equipment such as balls, rings, resistance bands, or even special Pilates reformer machines, which look like weird kind of beds with springs and levers attached! Pilates is basically a body conditioning workout which places emphasis on strengthening the core, and on spinal and pelvic alignment, as well as breathing and flexibility. The aim is to improve posture, coordination and balance.
Different levels are available, beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Key benefits:
Better posture and coordination of movement
Strengthens core and protects back
Reduces risk of back injury

Best for: Improving posture and core strength


Aerobic workout that’s been around for over 20 years, utilising an adjustable step platform set at height of 15cm (beginners), 20cm or 25cm (advanced). The height of the step will help determine the intensity of the exercise. Each participant has a step and follows a routine demonstrated by the instructor at the front of the class. The instructor will create a series of moves stepping on and off the platform to the beat of the music, using different foot patterns as well as hops and skips, and often incorporating some dance moves and arm moves for variety. Classes can be done with simple choreography for beginners, but there are many variations now, such as; Latino step, dance step, advanced step, power step (with multiple step platforms), to challenge even the most experienced hardy steppers! There is a class therefore for all abilities and preferences. Initially beginners may struggle with learning the moves and directions or following the beat, but after a few classes confidence and coordination quickly improves and it becomes a fun way to workout. Caution must be taken by those with knee and ankle injuries and attention to proper form imperative to avoid injury. Burns around 360* calories per hour on average.

Key benefits:
Increases general fitness levels and is easy to progress
Increases leg strength, specifically the muscles around the knee joints
Helps with coordination and timing

Best for: a fun calorie burning and leg toning workout


A TRX™ Suspension Trainer is basically comprised of 2 adjustable length straps of webbing with handles which are attached via one webbing strap to the ceiling or an immovable object. The participant then holds on to the straps (or puts feet into the straps) and uses their body weight as the resistance to perform a huge variety of different exercises. Examples include suspended push ups, 45 degree pull ups, suspended planks, assisted squats and lunges. The added benefit of TRX training is that as you are suspended you have to engage your core muscles more for stability so therefore extra gains are made in core strength during each move. As a group, the instructor will take you through a series of exercises designed to challenge each muscle group. You can increase or decrease your resistance and therefore how difficult the exercise is simply by adjusting your body position, which makes it suitable for all ages and abilities. The moves, however, can be a little tricky to master at first, but once learnt are very effective, making it a good all over body strength and toning workout.
Burns on average around 280* calories in 45 min session

Key benefits:
Strength and tones all major muscle groups
Easily adjustable so suitable for all
Excellent for strengthening the core

Best for: strengthening and toning muscles

Belly Dancing Dubai

Belly Dancing
Many gyms and studios offer Belly Dancing classes for ladies. The class format is entirely dependent on the instructor in charge and therefore there is a lot of variation, however, basic moves in a class are taken from the Middle Eastern traditional art of belly dancing, and focus on movement below the bellybutton, in combination with graceful arm patterns.

Key Benefits:
Burns on average around 300* calories per hour
Improves flexibility and coordination
Improves body core balance and posture
Tones muscles in your arms, legs, back and abdominal area.
Can help to improve self-confidence and feelings of ‘femininity’

Best for: fun way to gently exercise the whole body and learn new ‘skills’


Zumba has been around since 2001, and over the last few years it has taken the globe by storm! Zumba classes are getting packed out the world over with people shaking their hips to the sounds of Latino, hip hop, and international beats. It is basically a cardio dance workout that anyone can take part, even those with 2 left feet, as the moves are simple and repeated over and over. Less emphasis is put on style and more on having a good time and moving your body, making it a great workout to do with a friend as you will guarantee to burn as many calories laughing as you will moving! For those who want to take it to another level, there is a whole Zumba community with its own range of clothes, DVD’s , video games and events, etc. to tap into.
Burns on average 530 calories per hour

Key Benefits:
No prior experience or equipment required
Helps to increase overall fitness, stamina and coordination
Great fun social activity
Suitable for all levels and all ages, even kids

Best for: fun and inclusive way to increase general fitness

High Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.)
At the moment HIIT training is the new buzz word in training and there are many different versions of this done by different gyms and trainers around the world. Some of these you may come across include GRIT (™ Les Mills), T.U.F.F. ™ Fitness First), Tabata Circuits and H.I.I.T Circuits. They all work on the same principle of a short burst of maximal effort work, followed by a shorter period of recovery or lower intensity work, often around 2:1 ration. This is repeated many times over with the aim to finish the workout in a short over all time period, e.g. 30 mins or less. The workout can be ‘cardio’ based, eg sprints, or ‘strength’ based, or a combination of both. Scientific research shows this is one of the most effective ways to increase fitness and strength, with the added benefit that it is time efficient too.

Key Benefits:
Time saving
Simplistic moves
Quick way to make fitness and strength gains

Best for: those who have reached a plateau in their fitness regime and need an extra ‘kick’


Is a Fitness Company who designed a particular type of workout which has become a global phenomenon. Their workouts are short, generally around 20 minutes, but very intense! They generally use functional big movements, with or without equipment, e.g. tire flipping, push ups,
sprints, heavy weight lifting, rope or box jumping. Their prescribed daily workouts, which are posted on their website or done as a group in affiliated gyms across the world, demands maximal effort combined with minimal recovery time. Not for the feint hearted! It is also not really suitable for beginners or those with injury unless done under close supervision by a professional.

Key Benefits:
Time efficient
Quick strength and fitness gains
Daily workouts available on line

Best for: experienced exercise enthusiasts who want to push their limits


A discipline which originated in India and is based on spiritual, mental and physical training. There are therefore many purposes to doing yoga, however in terms of fitness in a group situation, the benefits can include; increasing flexibility and posture, reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and some research suggests it is good for heart health, helps control blood pressure and lower cardiovascular risk factors. During a group Yoga class you will be guided by your instructor through a series of poses all done in time with the breathing. Some postures are harder to attain than others and therefore Yoga classes are often labelled as beginner, intermediate and advanced. There are also lots of different types of yoga and some of the more commonly known ones include; Hatha Yoga, (the most well known in the western world) Astanga Yoga (classical yoga) and Bikram Yoga (done in a room heated to around 40⁰).

Key Benefits:
Helps to improves posture
Can benefit static strength and muscle tone
Helps with mood and mental and spiritual health
Benefits for general health and heart health
Suitable for all

Best for: gentle calming way to exercise which has positive all over benefits for everyone

* Important note. Calories burned is based on an average, however, this will of course vary according to the individual’s basal metabolic rate as well as the amount of ‘effort’ given to the exercise by the participant.
By Julie Willetts for