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Fitness classes for a busy mom

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

One mom. Four weeks. Many classes.

Have you ever wondered what all those exercises classes at the gym are like? One mom decided to find out, trying out as many classes as possible over four weeks. Here's what she discovered.
Woman in kickboxing class

Zumba

What it is: Zumba is a dance workout that combines Latin moves (think salsa and merengue) with aerobics. The intensity of the classes vary but this can burn up to 1,000 calories in a highly intense class.

I have never felt so uncoordinated in my life. During the first class, it was like I just couldn't get my arms and feet to do what they were supposed to. All those years of ballet? Totally wasted. But I worked up a good sweat and saw possibilities for getting fit in the class. So I went again a few days later. Still largely uncoordinated, but the exuberance of the teacher was kind of energizing.

Bottom line: I took three Zumba classes and found that the teacher really makes a difference. The first class was much less intense than the others. I will definitely do it more.

Kickboxing

What it is: Kickboxing is a workout that sets martial arts techniques like kicks and punches to music. It works out the whole body.

The teacher yelled at me. I stopped to wipe my dripping brow, and she yelled to keep going, looking me right in the eye. I listened. And when she came over and did some of the moves right next to me, I worked even harder. I appreciated a no-nonsense take on exercise classes and think it helps me in getting fit. And I was both sore and energized after this class. Love kickboxing. Even if there's a lot of pressure to keep at it.

Bottom line: This was my favorite of all the classes I took because it was intense, but it didn't work me out to complete exhaustion. I am planning to take kickboxing regularly.

EDGE Flex

What it is: EDGE Flex is a total-body workout class that builds muscular strength, endurance and flexibility. In the class, dumbbells, body bars, physio balls and more are used.

I have found hell on Earth, and its name is Edge FLEX. The workout shares a lot of characteristics with the popular Crossfit workout incorporating moves like burpies and planks. It's intense — so intense that my legs could barely hold me after the exercise class. Everything hurt. Going up stairs was awful and near impossible. And my energy? Every last bit was zapped by the class. It took three days of recovery before I could walk normally again — you know, like I am 32, not 92. I'm not sure this is the key to me getting fit since it limits what I do after.

Bottom line: After this exercise class, I swore I would never do it again because the intensity level rendered me useless for a few days. But it really is a great workout — for when I am in better shape.

Personal Training

What it is: A one-on-one training session with a fitness professional. Many gyms offer a one-time consultation with a trainer when you join.

My gym includes one session with a personal trainer. Amazingly she wasn't fazed when I told her that I develop recipes and thus can't really pay that much attention to caloric/nutrient intake. She showed me a variety of exercises to get started with weight loss. Magically, I woke up the next day four pounds lighter — but I think that was more likely my body catching up to my three weeks of workout rather than her results. This definitely made going to the gym a little easier since I had a better handle on what to do (for instance, you need both cardio and weights to successfully lose and get fit).

Bottom line: I learned a lot in my hour session, and the personal training fees are reasonable. However, when you factor in gym fees and childcare, this isn't the most cost effective way to work out.

Watch: Healthy tips from Brooke Burke

Dancing with the Stars host Brooke Burke gives healthy tips for moms and their families.

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