STEP INTO THE NEW YEAR
For most of us as the last chime of Big Ben sounds then we start to look ahead to the New Year and for some this is the time of the Resolution. I think you will find on most people’s lists – “Get Fit” and what better way to start than to try an old favourite of mine STEP.
Step has been around since the late 1980’s and was developed by Gin Miller, who having a knee injury was told by her Doctor to step up and down on a Milk Crate to help strengthen the muscles supporting the knee. From this humble beginning she developed the Step regimen which became one of the biggest phenomena in the fitness industry and still remains a mainstay for group exercise. Over the last few years, despite the many “new” Fitness trends, it has been nice to see Step enjoying resurgence and proving increased popularity.
For those who haven’t seen this type of exercise it involves stepping up and down onto an elevated platform (the Step) and these can be altered for individual needs by inserting or lifting the risers under the Step. Instructors will prepare a set of moves to form the choreography of the class, all to music and there will always be various options for different levels of intensity and ability.
Step is a complete body workout and Aerobic exercise. Regular sessions will provide you with both cardiovascular and muscular endurance and when incorporating the upper body and lower body, it will improve your coordination and agility. The constant stepping will increase your leg strength and contrary to some beliefs – it does not beef up your legs and bottom, but what it will do is tone and reduce fat. As with all cardiovascular workouts the benefits are great, obviously the first one is your heart. Your heart is a muscle and in order for it to become strong it needs to be worked, if you don’t work it then over time it can weaken and cause negative health problems. Cardio also effects your metabolism means it will help you lose or maintain your weight (depending on your requirements). Cardio exercise releases the “feel good” hormone – serotonin which helps ease the symptoms of depression and fatigue and it is a fantastic stress buster. There are so many other great benefits from this type of exercise, increased bone density, reduced risk of some types of cancer, stronger lungs, better sleep, more energy and it gives you confidence in how you feel and look as you begin to see the changes.
You may have heard of HiiT training, this is high-intensity intermittent exercise and is a form of interval training, very popular in gyms and clubs. It is a cardiovascular exercise but alternates short periods of intense anaerobic exercise which will further increase your metabolism which will burn more fat in less time. This is something that I have now incorporated into my Step sessions. It gives another fantastic use of this underestimated piece of equipment.
When starting any new exercise regime it is always important to ensure it is safe for you to do so, so if you have any medical issues then please consult your Doctor to check it is advisable. Getting started is easy, all you need is comfortable clothing and a good pair of trainers. Back in the 1990s we had the luxury of Step Trainers unfortunately most of these have ceased to exist but Cross Trainers should fit the bill as they possess similar properties. A specifically designed Running Shoe is not the best as it does not allow for 360-degree movement. Ensure that you have ample cushioning and arch/ankle support, plus always make sure they are comfy and not too tight.
So if you are looking for a new (or old) exercise class then you will not go wrong going along to your nearest Step session, both Leisure Centres in Preston run classes as do many of the other Gyms and Dance Studios. I guarantee that you will enjoy the class and even more love the benefits. Remember that with all new exercise regimes it takes a good 6 weeks to pick up moves etc, so do persevere – all exercise is a “Step” in the right direction