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Elizabeth R. Carey

If more exciting cardio options are important, don't join a gym before getting the class list. Use these five classes to inspire your search.

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Let's face it, cardio workouts are tedious. Plodding along on a treadmill or pedaling endlessly on a stationary bike zoning out with your iPod or a dog-eared copy of last week's People magazine is not my idea of fun. Some days your aerobic sessions are about as lively as a C-SPAN marathon on Robert's Rules of Order. Thankfully, the machines aren't your only cardio option. Many gyms and health clubs offer classes, spanning from the basics (cardio kickboxing, spinning, and step, to name a few) to the more innovative and esoteric. If losing fat and getting heart-healthy are high priorities on your fitness to-do list, you should look into what the facilities in your area offer, and see which classes pique your interest. To give you an idea of what might be available, we've scouted the Los Angeles area for some of the latest and greatest classes — four are detailed below.

1) Yoga 360 (Equinox Santa Monica)
Forget the face forward practice of yoga studios of yore. Yoga 360, taught by Desiree Bartlett, will have you moving through the entire space. Performed on a circular mat (of Bartlett's design), you'll gently warm up before engaging in a hatha flow-like yoga class that features music from P. Diddy (his softer side) and other pop music favorites. Each sequence has movements inspired not only by yoga, but dance as well. Warning: Traditional yogis may not dig it, but those open to a new dimension of the ancient meditative art will.

2) Heavy Metal Moves (Crunch, Los Angeles)
Former hair band enthusiasts, unite! Crunch, a gym renowned for its innovative fitness class offerings, shows it literally has an axe to grind in staying ahead of the competition. This class shreds — as in, loud, fast and furious metal music — to help you shed pounds. And it isn't just the tunes that are heavy: You'll don a weighted vest as you rock your way through various martial art-inspired cardio drills in a truly hard-core workout.

3) BodyWeb (Crunch, Los Angeles)
A class taught by Spider Man? Not quite. But this Crunch offering puts you through a 45-minute "total-body suspension workout" thanks to the TRX System (i.e. Total Resistance Exercise), basically a series of durable straps that allows you to use your bodyweight and gravity as resistance. It effectively hits your core , but these straps — first devised by a Navy Seal trying to get fit out in the field with only his parachute cords available as equipment — allow for over 300 strength, agility, and stretching movements. You may not get Seal (or Spider Man) tough, but you'll reach your physical limits and significantly improve your fitness levels.

4) Indo-Row (Revolution Fitness, Santa Monica)
World Rowing Champion and triathlete Josh Crosby created this group exercise program. It's designed to work all the major muscle groups of the body and adds new life to a common - if sometimes forgotten — piece of gym cardio equipment, the rowing machine. During a 50-minute class you'll team up and work in sync utilizing high-intensity rowing techniques and principles. Rowing not only burns more calories per hour than running or swimming, it's very low-impact, perfect for those who are seeking a great workout without aggravating chronic muscle strains or joint conditions.

Are you now motivated to get up and get active? Innovative classes are not limited to the Los Angeles area — visit the gyms in your locality and see what they have to offer. Whether kicking, punching, rowing, dancing, or engaging in any other movement you can imagine, you can reinvigorate your fitness endeavors in as little as 1-2 classes per week.