Group exercise classes at Harvard hold a certain appeal for those who lack the motivation to work out on their own. A plus: for Harvard undergrads, the classes are free (read: covered by a kidney or two, ahem, the $60k tuition). On the down side, there is a high risk of public humiliation, and, depending on how out of shape you are, a risk of death. Harvard Recreation presents an overwhelming array of options to the exercise dilettante. But don’t sweat it! We’ve reviewed Harvard’s group exercise classes, so you can save the perspiration for your workout.


Pain rating: 2/10

There is a slight risk of drowning in your sweat, but you’ll be having too much fun to notice that you’re actually working out.

Fun Rating: 11/10

The most fun you can have and still have it be considered exercise.

With a name like Zumba, how could this class be anything but a good time? As one exuberant Zumba-goer voiced, “Zumba is publicly acceptable self-embarrassment!” Imagine jamming out in your room but on a more coordinated scale, with some salsa dancing thrown in. A class once deemed acceptable only for middle-aged women, Zumba is now the pretty young thing.

Cardio Kick

Pain rating: 6/10

If like us you are unaccustomed to repeated arm jabs, you may experience sore “muscles” for a few days in your shoulders. And legs. And the rest of your body. You’ll most likely be able to walk.

Fun Rating: 6/10

The music for this class is pretty hype, but to really get into it, you must muster the mindset that you’re a boxer in the ring. Or that your imaginary opponent is an inimical Harvard student—section kid, evil punchmaster, the options are endless...

If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a badass boxer but lack the actual skills to be one, this is the class for you. You will strengthen your arms, legs, and core, and feel it for at least 24 hours post-class. From uppercuts to jabs, we promise this class will have you hooked!

High Intensity Interval Cardio (HIIT Cardio)

Pain rating: 11/10

The acronym HIIT is fitting because days later, we still felt like we took a HIIT to every part of our bodies.

Fun Rating: 1/10

If your idea of fun is being told to keep going until you collapse and then to get up when you collapse, then this class is a blast!

This review may come off as very negative, but keep in mind that we are not athletic people, and as such, we were not prepared for the high level of intensity that this class’s name warned us of. The class was 25 minutes in comparison to the usual 55 minute class, so we thought, “How bad could this be?” As it turns out, pretty bad. Beginners/NARPS: stay away. Truly fit people: go for it.

Barre Express

Pain rating: 7/10

Barre is the kind of class that sneaks up on you when you’re not looking. You think you’re there for some cute plies, then all of a sudden your legs are jelly and you can’t sit up.

Fun Rating: 5/10

This is a very chill class. The music is pop-based but quiet, and the instructor is upbeat, so you leave feeling like a good, healthy person...but not exactly pumped up.

With Barre, you can pretend to be an ultra-together suburban mom who works out every morning and is super chipper for the rest of the day because *exercise!* and *endorphins!*. If you’re looking for something more strength-based than Zumba but not as intense as HIIT, look no further...just don’t underestimate the toll that squats can take on your walking abilities.


When the newest PSA or study reminds you that you’re shortening your lifespan by not exercising, and if the thought of trying to figure your life out by yourself at the gym is overwhelming, try a group exercise class. Armed with Flyby’s helpful synopses, you can tailor the pain and fun levels to your mood and crush your workout!