After being sedentary for longer than I care to admit, I decided to find joy in working out again. I bought a membership that lets you try many different gyms and their classes in Amsterdam. Then I promised myself to workout 3 times a week. If you are in the same situation but don’t know what to try, I reviewed some of my classes for you!

Contemporary jazz

I decided to start with something similar to what I had done before. I have danced before and even tried some jazz classes in the past. As I love to watch videos where someone dances beautifully to slow romantic music (think Ed Sheeran’s Thinking out loud), I found contemporary jazz to be the closest to what I wanted.

We started off with fast yoga-like movements to warm up the body, followed by planks and crunches. We then went on to doing series across the floor in groups of three (this might be a bit scary and difficult if you are a complete beginner.) For the final half hour we focused on a short choreography and to my relief, we skipped the “half of the group performing for the other half” part. I enjoyed this class and the choreography, although I know all teachers will have slightly different styles.

Try this if: You like dancing in a rather dramatic but slow way. You also like that the dance is based on a certain song.

Jumping fitness

Jumping on a trampoline sounds like fun, right? I decided to give it a go, even if it was on one of those small trampolines that I never really understood the fun in as a kid. We were crammed up in a room with trampolines almost touching and did aerobic type moves at a fast pace.

I was amazed by how I managed to get through the whole class as I usually need to give up quite fast while jumping. All in all, the class could have been more varied and I didn’t really remember much of it after.

Try this if: You like jumping, and aerobics. You also like cardio and getting your heartbeat up.

Pole dancing

I was really excited about this one. Pole dancing seems to be one of those “need to try once in my life” type exercises and I definitely felt the same. I went to a complete beginners class, and yet I found that everyone else managed better than me.

Keeping myself up on the pole or doing anything that required flexibility wasn’t the problem. Rather I struggled with trusting the pole and my grip when turning and sliding around it. I just couldn’t get it to work no matter how much the teacher cheered on and gave me advice. Being the worst in class has never been my strong suit and I despised the workout afterward. With some distance, I feel like I can’t give up that easily and have decided to try once more.

Try this if: You want a challenge! You are not afraid of making a fool out of yourself and you trust your arm and leg muscles. Being flexible and having experience with dancing or acrobatics helps, but is not a requirement.

Kickboxing

This is the class I was most afraid of. Having a background in dancing and yoga, rather than anything more “macho” made me think I would half-die during the class. My friend finally convinced me to join him, and I’m glad he did since it has been a secret wish of mine to start with exactly this.

With smelly loaned boxing gloves and lower leg protection, I stood there with a boxing sack between me and my friend. The class was packed and without the help of people around me, I would not have understood anything. “Left, right, left, hook, kick” was surprisingly hard to remember the first time. The class was sweaty and tough and I came out with my hands shaking from exhaustion. Nevertheless, I loved it and felt confident and strong. I even bought my own gloves afterwards.

Try this if: You want to feel strong and confident. You don’t mind tough workouts but you want to try something different from weight lifting or running on a treadmill.

Aerial hammock

I tried two different classes with an aerial hammock: aerial hammock play, and aerial yoga. The yoga was fun and different, although as someone who practices yoga regularly I felt it was a bit rushed and a lot of focus went into the hammock instead of the practice.

Aerial hammock play was both fun and challenging. My arms were not strong enough to do all of the moves and they were sore several days after. Also, the fabric squeezes your legs which really hurts. You could sense the teacher being a bit stressed whenever someone didn’t do well since failing would mean a head-first fall to the ground.

Try this if: If you are longing back to your childhood days of hanging upside down at the playground or if you just like being playful.

Hot (warm) yoga

I wanted to try hot yoga but found that all classes were sold out. However, I did find a “Warm Yin Yoga” in 30 degrees Celsius and decided to try it out. My first thought when entering the room was that I won’t be able to breathe in the room, the air felt so stuffy. After staying in the room for 10 minutes I didn’t even notice it anymore.

Since it was yin yoga, the class was very slow and focused on flexibility. I came out of there feeling extremely relaxed and happy. I have already reserved my first real hot yoga class in 40 degrees Celsius.

Try this if: You like yoga and you want to try something new. Read about more yoga styles here.

Barre

Barre is one of those trendy workouts that everyone seems to love. I figured I had to try although ballet never really was my thing. It was definitely challenging, but not in an “I’m going to die of a heart attack” type way. I tried it twice at two different locations and was both times struck by how much the teacher talked about how we all want lean muscles. At least for me, this isn’t the case.

We did ballet-type movements combined with some kind of pilates and spent a lot of time at the barre pole. The class was quite slow and focused more on getting the alignment right while not doing any kind of cardio.

Try this if: You like ballet and/or pilates. You want lean muscles and are a bit of a perfectionist.

Women’s self-defense

Now, this was something I felt I had to try. I have heard a lot about self-defense classes, both that you really should take one, and that they are bogus and doesn’t help at all in real-life events. Our teacher was a special force trainer (whatever that means) and Krav Maga teacher.

We were paired up and were supposed to try different techniques on each other. Each class had a different theme and this time the first scenario was for if someone punches you straight in the face, although the teacher admitted this doesn’t happen very often. The second scenario was for several attackers at once. I did learn some good physical and mental tricks, considering that it was only one hour. However, I’m quite sure things wouldn’t work this way in real life.

Try this if: You want to know what you can do if someone attacks you on the street. You can’t prepare for a situation like that but at least you can learn what people’s weak points are and use it to your advantage.

Personal fitness

A personal trainer on a budget? Sweet. The class meant 4 people getting a tailored program and then using the gym to do those exercises. The trainer would be going around checking on everyone and answering questions. Almost all my exercises were things you could do at home. My absolute favorite was what they called a sled that weighed 50kg and which was meant to first pull on a track and then push it back.

Was it a real personal training experience? No. Was it a good budget alternative? Yes. If you are anything like me and hate going to the gym alone without knowing what to do, but can’t afford a personal trainer, this is great.

Try this if: You want to have a personal trainer but you can’t afford one. You also like the idea of going to the gym but have no idea what to do there.

Restorative yoga

This is a yoga I can really get behind. Although calling it a workout is a bit of a stretch. We used blankets, cushions, and blocks to do some light stretching and meditation. The teacher talked in a calming voice and walked around with incense to make the room smell nice. I was walking on clouds the whole way home.

During the practice, I wasn’t as convinced. I hadn’t done my research and was expecting at least a moderate workout. This led me to not enjoy the experience fully since I wasn’t there for calming down. In hindsight, I should have known better based on the name, and I can definitely consider going back the next time I feel stressed.

Try this if: You are looking for a chance to calm down.

Have you tried any new workouts lately? Would you try any of these?