Exercise = Muscular Combination Classes


By Janet Egerer


Every generation has its epic discoveries. In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb; in 1905, Albert Einstein discovered the theory of relativity, and in 1988, Robert Kahn rocked our world with development of the internet. In 1969, we saw a rise of leotards, leg warmers and sweat bands with Judi Sheppard Missett’s creation of the fitness industry’s first fusion exercise class: Jazzercise. Jazzercise is a combination exercise class merging dance, resistance training, strength and music. In 2003, Billy Blanks took over VCRs across the nation with Tae Bo by merging Muay Thai boxing and cardio training. In early 2010, with the uprising of boutique fitness facilities and a vast field of exercise modalities available, powerful visionaries conceptualized fusion classes and brought them to the forefront of what we now see as some of the most popular hybrid exercise experiences. 


With a tapestry of movement modalities rampant across the industry board, and a rapid decline of the average adult attention span due to technology, it is no wonder we are seeing a rise in fusion classes and saying a grateful farewell to step aerobics and Jazzercise. While cross training is not a new concept, there is now simply a resurgence of a results-proven model. With everything from PiYo/Yogalates, an amalgam of Pilates and yoga, to Tread (treadmill workouts integrating strength training and weight lifting), YAS, (yoga and spinning) and indoor cycling fused with everything from Barre to TRX, our options are endless, efficient and effective. 


Why should I take a fusion class? The easy answer is that it’s fun. The change in exercise disciplines keep the participants interested during the entire experience; it keeps the energy and the rate of recidivism high and the incidence of burnout low. Furthermore, with a majority of classes that fuse multiple training techniques, physiologically, there can be a lasting and great impact toward great results. 


Consider what a normal day is for you: kids to school, off to work, after-school sports, grocery shopping and dinner. Now you need to check three exercise boxes in one fell swoop; impossible, right? Wrong! You have an hour to get the job done, so what do you do? The fusion exercise lab is a vast and exploratory arena for you to test just about any modality and see results. For example, in a cycle/treadmill/rowing plus strength-training experience, not only will you check the box for your daily cardio respiratory function (if, of course, we hit steady state at twenty minutes or above), but you will also have the chance to strengthen, tighten and tone your muscles. Conversely, you can check the strengthening, cardio and stretch box with a cycle and yoga class. If those options don’t sound like a petri dish you are interested in testing, then there’s Piloxing (Pilates, boxing and dance), CrossFit (combining a mix of exercises to include Olympic weightlifting, calisthenics, cardio and interval training), TRX yoga (yoga on the suspension trainer), XEN strength yoga (yoga with weights), or STRONG by Zumba (a combination of body weight, muscle conditioning cardio and plyometric training moves synced to music). I personally believe in the fusion of multiple modalities so much so that I developed my own trademarked class XPLOGA. XPLOGA is an all-encompassing strength-based practice merging power yoga, strength training, core concentration, interval training and plyometric movement. 


So why all of the changes of movement within the experience and does it really work? We often hear the theory that muscle confusion is great, but what does that really mean? Let’s be clear, our muscles don’t have a brain; they have receptors that fire to the brain, so they never personally get confused. They simply reach a plateau: a point at which the muscles adapt to the movement and hit their peak. If the client is goal driven and looking for results, this is where there becomes a necessity to create change. In comes the creativity of the trainers and coaches with the programming. Fusion classes offer the opportunity to create alternative movement patterns or vary the time and tension under load to create a shift within the body. Moreover, while there is beauty in repetition, we also know that extreme repetition over extended periods of time can dehydrate fascia. Fascia is the casing of connective tissue that wraps around our muscles, it attaches tendons, ligaments and muscles all throughout the body. When the fascia is dehydrated due to overuse and repetition, there is a more likely occurrence for soft tissue injury and acute pain in the body.


My theory is that muscular combination classes equal exercise efficiency and maximum effect. They are the perfect way to stay fit, burn calories, lose weight and remain focused, but more important than all of that, they make you feel successful and firmly committed to your exercise program.