The growing popularity of aerobic dance exercise over the past three decades was a major driving force behind the tremendous growth of the fitness industry and the emergence of the modern health club as we know it.

Nowadays health clubs and fitness centres usually offer a range of 'aerobics' classes. The classes usually have different names, formats and descriptions and will vary from one venue to the next.

Some classes have unique, catchy names used specifically for marketing purposes. Classes can be highly choreographed, which requires a high level of co-ordination and skill.

Currently popular 'aerobics' formats include Hi-Lo, Low Impact, Martial Arts-based Aerobics, Kickboxing, Latin, Hip-hop, Funk and Jazz. A variety of equipment-based workouts, such as Step Aerobics and Slide Aerobics, also fall within this category.

When you join a health club or fitness centre, ensure that you are familiar with different classes offered and study the class description carefully. This will enable you to choose the ideal class to go to.

The typical aerobics class usually begins with a warm-up phase, which generally uses movements with a low to moderate speed and range of motion. This section is mainly designed to promote body awareness, raise the core temperature of the body and to increase blood flow to the muscles.

The aerobics phase follows the warm-up. The aerobics section is mainly aimed at improving cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition and uses large body movements performed continuously so that the heart rate remains elevated.

Following the aerobic workout, a cool-down phase reduces the heart rate toward resting levels and prevents excessive pooling of blood in the lower extremities.

An aerobics class always ends with stretching and relaxation exercises. The cool-down is designed to lower the heart rate, help prevent muscle soreness, enhance flexibility and re-establish homeostasis or equilibrium.