HUDDERSFIELD University’s lecturer in sport and history, Peter Davies, takes a look at the aerobics class at the university’s Sports Centre
KEEP-FIT fanatics Vanessa Barrett and Leanne Martin are partners in action.
The two instructors share a Saturday morning aero-bics class at Huddersfield University’s Sports Centre, with Vanessa in charge one week and Leanne the next.
“We love it,” said Vanessa, 28, from Springwood.
“My interest in cheerleading means I probably bring more dance moves to the class.
“But we both follow the same general routines.”
Vanessa studied health and sports studies at the university between 2003 and 2006 and has other qualifications, too.
She is Huddersfield born and bred and has also worked at the Galpharm Stadium, Total Fitness and for Kirklees Active Leisure.
The aerobics classes are aimed mainly at beginners.
The instructors teach a range of basic moves to a mixed group.
“It’s mostly students from the university,” said Leanne, 23, from Lower Wyke, Bradford.
“We get the occasional member of staff, but it’s mainly students, including a good proportion of overseas students too.
“It’s a very sociable thing. You can do it with your friends and have a lot of fun!”
Aerobics can be defined as a form of exercise that aims to strengthen the body's cardiovascular system.
All parts of the body are used and routines are often choreographed to music.
One specialist website states: “Aerobics is an attractive form of exercise. There are two major categories of exercise, aerobic and anaerobic.
“The aerobic form includes all casual activity, as well as all activity that doesn't exhaust the muscles.
“Anaerobic exercise is the opposite of aerobic exercise. It occurs when a part of the body's muscle tissue runs out of oxygen stores during exertion.
“The lack of oxygen exhausts and slightly tears apart the muscles, forcing them to rebuild with more mass.”
Aerobics can be either low or high impact.
Low impact exercise involves keeping at least one foot on the ground at all times, whereas the high-impact type means either jumping or running.
Variants of aerobics also include step, floor, interval and circuit.
And there is also muscle conditioning, boxercise, step kickboxing, slide exercisers, and ski conditioning.
Whatever the format, aerobics classes always follow the same kind of schedule:
Warm-up: a low-intensity start.
Stretches: five minutes to lengthen the muscles.
Aerobics: the main part of the class.
Cooldown: a short period of reduced-tempo movements.
Drills: exercising a specific set of muscles.
Final stretches: a five-minute bout of intensive stretching.
If all this sounds very regimented let’s quote a wry aerobics enthusiast who writes for the BBC website.
“Aerobic exercise is intended more for the cardiovascular system than for specific muscles. So if you do one thing while the rest of the class is doing another it won’t really matter to your fitness level. Just shrug and keep moving.
“Public aerobics is much like public humiliation at first; but nobody else will be laughing at you (or, at least, they’d better not be) because they’ve all been there.
“Besides, it's not as if you're making them look bad. When you screw up, just shrug and keep moving.”
Huddersfield University’s Sports Centre class is clearly in safe hands.
Like Vanessa, Leanne is an evangelist for keep- fit.
“It’s a massive passion of mine,” she said.
“While I was at school I did my work experience at a gym and really enjoyed it.
“Ever since I left school I’ve worked as an instructor.”
She is also superbly qualified for her role.
Not only does she have a B Tech in sports science, but she also has teaching qualifications in swimming, aquafit, disability fitness and sport and exercise.
And that’s not forgetting certificates in nutrition and exercise for adults and children, plus a YMCA instructor’s licence!
“I’ve worked at a few places,” said Leanne. “Elland Pool, Halifax Pool, Rishworth Sports Centre, the Galpharm and now the university’s sports centre.
“My class lasts about 45 minutes, with a water break included. Sessions might include bicep curls and tricep dips.
“There’s always a bit of music and choreography too. The Saturday morning session is for beginners.
They might go to other classes too like Groove FX and Bhangra dance.
Motivations vary. Class members want to lose weight, keep fit and also make friends.
Leanne has taught her class since October last year, but aerobics was well entrenched at the university sports centre before that.
She added: “At the moment we’re offering it as part of the Healthy Campus initiative we’re running, trying to increase awareness of fitness among staff and students.
“I run a circuit training session on Tuesdays and lead a walking group on Wednesdays.
“And then there’s aerobics on Saturday mornings.
“I’m pretty versatile and really enjoy what I do!”