The Fort Campbell Courier

Aerobic alternatives

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:00 am

Whether it's step aerobics done to the pulsating beat of techno music or pilates conducted to the soothing sounds of classical music, Fort Campbell's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Estep Wellness Center offers a smorgasbord of aerobic classes to help you get in shape and stay that way.

Classes such as Just Step, Step Plus, Hi-Low, Hip Hop, Pilates, Zumba, Kickboxing, Circuit Training, Indoor Cycling and Belly Dancing, taught at varying levels of difficulty, provide participants with thorough aerobic, flexibility and strength-building workouts.

"We offer a wide variety of classes throughout the day," said Sharon Shaw, Estep aerobics coordinator. "Participation in the classes is very good, and we have several people who do more than one class a day."

Shaw finds aerobic exercise personally satisfying, and she strives to help those who participate in the program reap its benefits.

"I enjoy aerobics myself, and I like motivating others to get themselves in shape," Shaw said. "I try to make them realize that getting and staying in shape is a lifestyle change that will work if they stay with it. I try to steer them clear of some of the 'quick fixes' you see advertised all the time for losing weight and getting in shape."

Before beginning any Estep exercise program, Shaw strongly encourages future customers to first complete the microfit assessment. For a charge of $20, a certified Estep trainer will conduct a thorough assessment of each patron's current physical and overall health status.

Results of the microfit assessment allow Estep trainers and instructors to plan appropriate physical fitness programs for new customers. This reduces the occurrence of injuries and promotes desired conditioning results.

Nancy Whitaker, a regular aerobics customer, thoroughly enjoys the Estep aerobics program, and participates in several classes each week to include hip hop, step and kickboxing.

"I've been doing aerobics classes for about eight years now, and I really enjoy them," Whitaker said. "These workouts help relieve stress, keep me flexible and boost my energy. Estep runs a very good program with good instructors, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to start a fitness program."

Many who participate in aerobics do so to improve their overall physical condition and lose weight. According to Shaw, an aerobic workout is beneficial to people because it utilizes the body's large muscle groups to increase the heart rate and oxygen capacity to a point where the body begins to burn calories quickly and more efficiently.

A good aerobic workout can also be achieved by using stationary exercise machines, such as cycles, treadmills, stair-steppers or rowing machines, which can be found at all post fitness centers.

Estep aerobics instructor Shelley Dickerson currently teaches indoor cycling, formerly known as spinning, and she believes it offers a great workout for a lot of different people.

"Indoor cycling provides wonderful cardiovascular exercise for all fitness levels," Dickerson said. "It is a non-impact workout, and it is very good for people with knee and back problems, and those just starting an exercise program who want to build an aerobic base."

To meet the varying workout preferences of its customers, Estep also offers pilates, zumba and belly dancing classes, in addition to the standard aerobics classes.

Pilates utilizes many of the same principals found in yoga, to include centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flowing movement. At Estep, pilates students perform their exercises in a darkened room on mats to the calming sounds of nature or classical music.

"Pilates exercise requires a lot of focus, which is why we turn the lights down and play soothing music," said Melanie Kurz, Estep pilates instructor. "The pilates workout is nice and slow to allow participants to focus on proper breathing and the core torso muscles in the center of the body. This develops strength and flexibility which helps to keep the body balanced and aligned."

The belly dancing class comes complete with colorful hip scarves decorated with flashy sequins, and is performed to Middle Eastern music to set the mood.

"Belly dancing was originally created for women, and it is still a fun thing for them to do," said Gwen Atkinson, belly dancing instructor. "It helps strengthen abdominal muscles and improves back flexibility. I've often heard women say it causes them to use muscles they never even knew they had."

Raquel Wright, an Estep aerobics enthusiast, recently added belly dancing to her fitness regimen.

"I like the belly dancing class because it's different from the other aerobic classes," Wright said. "It's just fun to dance, and it also gives you a pretty good workout."

Zumba is a fitness program inspired by Latin dance, and it combines Latin music and dance with cardiovascular exercise to create an aerobic routine that is fun and easy to follow.

"I think anyone can find some type of aerobic exercise here at Estep that works for them," Shaw said. "Our programs are designed to accommodate people with a variety of fitness goals and levels of physical conditioning. They also offer people a chance to socialize and have some fun while getting in shape."

Program infoFor more information on the Estep Wellness Center's aerobics program, call (270) 798-4664 or visit their Web site at">