What is Step Aerobics?

Step aerobics is a form of aerobic exercise that uses a 4- to 12-inch platform or step. It is a low-impact form of exercise that is less stressful on the joints than higher impact exercises such as jogging or running. Step aerobics was invented by Gin Miller, an aerobics instructor who had injured her knee and was undergoing rehabilitation by climbing her porch steps over and over. She realized this was not only a low-impact exercise, but it could also provide an effective cardiovascular workout.

Choosing an Instructor

It is important to find a qualified, certified instructor. The instructor should have at least a general group fitness certification, such as ACE or AFAA. It's also important to find an instructor who meets your individual needs.

Your First Class

A step instructor will provide both visual and verbal cues to lead the class in step movements. All movements are done at a specific cadence (typically 125-128 beats per minute), so most instructors utilize music that keeps the cadence. The class will start with a warm-up, proceed to step patterns, and end with a cool-down and stretch. The majority of classes are done without special equipment, but some instructors may implement a toning segment and utilize hand weights, resistance tubing, or other strength-building equipment. Remember your step height depends on your fitness level, stepping skills, and degree the knee is bent when stepping up. Beginners should start on a 4-inch platform. As you improve, you may add risers to increase the step height, but make sure the bend in your knees does not exceed 60 degrees. The most popular step heights are 6 and 8 inches.

What to Wear/Bring

Wear comfortable fitness clothing, such as shorts, a tank top, or T-shirt, that will allow you to stay cool. There are specially designed cross-trainers or aerobic shoes you may want to purchase that provide the support you need for aerobic classes. Be sure to bring water with you to class and hydrate before, during, and after the workout.