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Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant

Posted 26 Aug 12

Confused over 'moderate' and 'vigorous' intensity!

Hi, When entering my exercise values for Pilates or Zumba I'm never quite sure whether to enter 'moderate' or 'vigorous'. For example, in Zumba even though for some routines I have to step rather than jump, that is my personal maximum capacity, whereas others may be able to do more. Do I interpret that as 'moderate' compared to others or 'vigorous' because that's what it is for me!! Thanks

Our expert says...



This is an excellent question! It is always crucial to define the intensity categories based on your own efforts as this is what will determine your calorie output. Another person’s exercise intensity and fitness level versus yours is irrelevant and it is hard not to compare in class situations but only your workout matters.


If you feel you are working to your max – so on a 1-10 scale for effort/intensity you are between 8-10 out of 10 then that would class as ‘vigorous’. If you feel a workout was between 5-8 than that would class as moderate.


Obviously the nature of a class may limit you reaching a 10, so for example a Pilates or yoga class may still only feel like a 5-6 when you push yourself with each move, compared to pushing yourself in a Zumba or Bodypump class.


One other variable that you can also give some thought to when choosing your intensity level is the amount of muscle groups an exercise / class involves. The more muscle groups that are involved, (so a class that has a total body approach and targets legs, arms, core etc) as opposed to lesser groups, will increase the intensity of the class/exercise.


Hope this helps,




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