Yoga classes are one type of group exercise.
Aerobics, yoga and Pilates are three different types of group exercise classes. You'll find these types of workouts on the fitness class schedule at many health clubs. The type of class you choose depends on your workout goals. If your goal is cardiovascular, aerobics gives you that benefit. For strength training and flexibility, select yoga or Pilates.
During aerobics, you remain in an upright, standing position. Aerobics uses dance-based, kickboxing or sports movements to the beat of the music. You move in place, forward, backward or sideways depending on the choreography. In yoga, you stand, sit, lie, kneel, support your weight on your head and hands, go upside down and bend for the various yoga postures performed on a yoga mat. Pilates is considered a low-impact exercise, so you spend most of your time in a seated or lying position.
Aerobic exercise improves your cardiovascular system. Your heart and breathing rates increase as you perform full-body, rhythmic movements such as dancing or kickboxing. Most yoga classes do not move your feet fast enough to elevate your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular system. You remain on a yoga mat and move through a series of yoga postures. Most Pilates exercises are performed in a reclining or sitting position, so you are not doing full-body, rhythmic movements. Pilates is non-weight bearing, compared with aerobics, in which you are standing and supporting your weight with your legs.
Yoga and Pilates increase your muscular strength. Yoga postures, especially when performed in a specific order and vigorously, use your legs or arms to support most of your body weight, which increases your muscle tone. While Pilates exercises target your core, all of your muscles are strengthened. The exercises are arranged for equal muscle toning, all the way to your feet. Aerobics classes are not strength-based workouts. Your instructor may include a few strengthening exercises such as squats, pushups or situps, but the focus in aerobics is on your cardiovascular system.
The physical postures in yoga are designed to increase flexibility. You hold the poses for an extended duration to lengthen the muscles, calm the mind and relax the body. Aerobics classes are not focused on flexibility. At the end of an aerobics class, you'll stretch for approximately five minutes. During Pilates, the exercises strengthen and elongate your muscles as you move them through full ranges of motion. Two of the benefits of Pilates are to increase joint mobility and muscle elasticity.