Step Aerobics Rocks to a New WAVE

Exercisers went wild for step aerobics in the late '90s because they got better results without spending more time working out, and because stepping made working out a lot more fun. Now step is riding a new wave — one that rocks.

Today's hottest step equipment is more like a see-saw than a step, and gyms and trainers are abuzz about exercises using unstable surfaces like these. The trend has grown out of increased attention to how the body works: as a unit, rather than each part in isolation.

Physical therapists, then athletic and personal trainers, realized that working out using unstable surfaces — and more recently, unstable resistance — forces the body to activate core muscles and deep stabilizer muscles. Because the surface or tool you're using is not static or still, you use more and different muscles to maintain balance, transfer power to the extremities, and move with control.

Workouts that integrate this balance or stability training principle recruit more muscles, shaping more of the body with each move and burning more calories. In other words, better results in less time.

New step workouts twist and shout, too

In the same vein as stability training equipment, more and more fitness professionals are emphasizing exercises and tools that require moving in fluid motions in an arcing pattern, or diagonally across the body.

Traditional weight or gym exercises, and many basic step and floor aerobics routines, require you to move in a linear pattern — up and down or out to one side. These movements primarily target the muscles that lie vertically or horizontally, and ignore those that that lie diagonally or wrap around the body. But moving in an arc develops greater core strength for improved mobility and agility in daily activities — and more power in sports activities.

Rotational movement also strengthens core muscles, firming and toning your body from the shoulders to the hips.

But the best part about these new fitness tools that enable stability and rotating moves is that they're fun! Unlike the repetitive, monotonous nature of some aerobics workouts or traditional weight training exercises, tools like the WAVETM from The FIRM engage the mind as well as the body. They are reactive, dynamic and playful.

A curved step uses these principles for a faster, more effective workout

The WAVE by The FIRM is one home workout system that makes it easy to integrate these balance/stability and rotational techniques into your workout. The WAVE™ personal gym is a curved-shaped riser or platform that's sort of like a step used in step aerobics, but with two distinctly different sides:

  • When positioned so that the “crest” side is up, the WAVE can be used for many common step-workout moves and weight training exercises, yet the convex top surface keeps your stabilizer and core muscles working harder than with a traditional step platform.
  • When you flip the WAVE over so the crest is down, the WAVE creates an innovative rocking platform. Stepping onto the WAVE in this position activates deep stabilizer muscles, from the ankles all the way up through the hips to the core — whether you're moving around on it or holding it steady for balanced body-sculpting exercises.

When rocking the WAVE side to side, you utilize not only the front and back of the thighs — the quadriceps and hamstrings — but also the inner thighs and all of the glute muscles (including the ones that rotate the leg outward and move it to the side). The rocking motion also makes it easy and fun to do rotational exercises with the upper body — twisting, pulling or pushing diagonally — to further engage the core.

Check out this video on how the WAVE works and what some of our FIRM Master Instructors say about why this "rockin' " new workout approach is so effective.

The Firm

Article courtesy of The FIRM Believers Club, an online community that helps you reach your fitness goals. With maximum-efficiency home workouts, support and motivation from The FIRM Master Instructors, daily tips, personalized workout rotation calendars, and access to other members through discussion boards, The Club provides all the tools you need to get in the shape you want.

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