Exercising has become much more varied than just endless miles on the treadmill, lifting weights or basic aerobics classes.

Gym-goers can choose from a variety of weight loss, and cardio or muscle building activities. Two of the options are kickboxing and spinning, both high-intensity workouts.

Debbie Cissna, who has started teaching a kickboxing class in Echo twice a week, describes it as "a total body workout and a mental workout, too."

"More of an aerobic feel because we do it to music," she said. "It also has a lot of the feel of boxing, but a little more to it because of the music."

The hour-long workout is a combination of punches and kicks, using the body's muscle resistance to provide toning, Cissna said.

The class uses a combination of five basic punches and three to four basic kicks, she said. The object is to perfect those, throw the punches quicker and throw the kicks stronger. A lot has to do with the core muscle groups, such as keeping the abdominal muscles tight and focusing on balance.

While is has an aerobics feel with the music, the kickboxing class isn't a bunch of people jumping around in leotards: The workout is aggressive.

"I think that's why it appeals to men more, because it's not a bunch of dance moves so you don't have to be as coordinated. It's not this huge choreographed routine."

While the basic punches and kicks might stay the same, the way they are put together changes, keeping the classes interesting and stimulating. The class also is far from a self-defense class, although it does use punches and kicks.

Cissna said she sees a lot of middle-aged and younger people coming to her class in Echo, but it's a great exercise even for someone out of shape.

"As they progress and as the inches start going away the kicks become higher," she said. "A low kick is just as effective as a high kick as long as it's a powerful kick."

Spinning - or cycling - as it is called at the Pendleton Round-up Athletic Club, takes a a familiar piece of gym equipment, the stationary bike, and kicks it up a notch.

Using different levels of tension, speed and positions, instructors take rides through courses that simulate hills and valleys all set to music.

"The bikes each have their own tension and you ride at your own intensity level throughout class," Shelly Zander, a cycling instructor at the club said. "You decided how hard or easy that drill is going to be."

Doing the class with other people is a great motivation factor, she said.

"The workout winds up to be more intense than if you were working on your own, it brings out competitive spirit."

"It is overall a more intense work out... that can be kind of scary to people and they think, 'there is no way I can get through that workout,'" she said.

Spinning improves cardio vascular endurance, so after a few classes people can start going longer and longer on all workout equipment, Zander said. It also works great for losing weight.

Recently, cycling instructor Amy Umbarger took a small afternoon class through a 45 minute course to songs by Garth Brooks, Elvis and the Charlie Daniels Band.

Not only is the exercise a great workout, it's also easy on the joints.

"It's great for people with knee injuries or shin splits," Zander said. "You can still do it."


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