Yoga, CrossFit or Zumba? Here’s how to pick a workout style that’s right for you

With a plethora of workout options available today, choosing a format that suits you needs to be budget-friendly and accessible

Anupama Shivacharya
First Published22 May 2024
Spend at least 2-3 months with one fitness modality before deciding what's best for you.
Spend at least 2-3 months with one fitness modality before deciding what’s best for you.(Unsplash/Mr Lee)

My first experience with movement was through sports during my school years, specifically volleyball. The initial rush of learning a new game, connecting with the team and getting stronger by the day kept me hooked. As I transitioned from a student to an earning adult, my options to practice movement grew - yoga, CrossFit, Zumba, parkour, calisthenics, Animal Flow and many more. With such a wide array of choices, I found myself nonplussed trying to decide which would be the best fit for me. Thankfully, we now have guides about which form would be the most suitable for us. If you have questions about how to pick a workout routine that's ideal for you, here are some pointers that can help.

Also read: What happens when running is the only exercise you do for two months?

Key Considerations

The options for exercise are many, but it’s important to remember that our body only understands ‘stress’ and ‘adaptation’. This stress can be provided through different equipment or movements with kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells or even your body weight. The general myth is that yoga helps with flexibility and resistance bands are great for rehab training. While that is true, you can build a good amount of strength too through handstands in yoga or work on flexibility and mobility with resistance bands.  The modality is just a choice to be made according to your convenience and personal satisfaction. 

Ankit Kataria, co-founder and coach, Crossfit9one Gym in Bengaluru, prefers CrossFit as his mode of workout. “CrossFit is a strength and conditioning workout that is made up of functional movements. I love CrossFit because it is a good mixture of Olympic lifting, gymnastics, strength and conditioning, mobility and flexibility,” Kataria says . As long as the stress provided by any of these is adequate and customised to your fitness level, the adaptation will naturally happen. The pace of recovery and adaptation are dependent on sleep, breathing, protein intake, micronutrients and hydration.

Understanding Cardio vs Strength Training

When choosing your fitness modality, keep in mind that your routine should be a balance of strength training and cardio movements. Cardiovascular training, commonly referred to as cardio, primarily benefits the cardiovascular system by improving heart and lung health whereas strength training aims to enhance muscle strength and endurance through resistance exercises. Both types of training offer unique health benefits and are mandatory for a healthy body.

Rate of Perceived Exertion

While choosing your desired form of exercise, keep in mind that your workout program should not push you to your max on every workout. This is where RPE (rate of perceived exertion) comes into the picture. A tool invented by Swedish researcher Gunnar Borg, RPE can be defined as a scale to measure how hard your body works during physical activity. It runs from 0 – 10, using numbers to rate how much effort an activity takes. 

The RPE scale will help you figure out the intensity of a particular movement or activity. Strength movements usually fall in the effort range of 6-10. For eg, for a 65-year-old male, 10 squats is a strength movement because his RPE is 8 for this movement. However, for an active 28-year-old female, it falls in the cardio range because she can do approximately 30 squats with RPE 3 and still not be exhausted. Whether you would like to train for strength in yoga or use kettlebells for your movement, it is beneficial to keep your efforts under RPE 8 regularly. Only push to RPE 10 on days when you are not fatigued, under the guidance of your coach. 


While movement options are plenty, fitness equipment and gym memberships can be expensive. While cardio activities like jogging and walking seem affordable and are good options for complete beginners, strength training involving equipment can become expensive. Choose your training mode based on the economics of it as well. Pick a gym that has a variety of equipment, this will allow you to experiment with whichever movement type fancies you. 

Be sure to spend at least 2-3 months with one fitness modality before deciding what's best for you and investing in the equipment required for that particular fitness form. Remember that nutrition and supplements for recovery take priority over equipment, and be sure to set aside a budget for the same. No one type of equipment or movement can guarantee you strength and health gains unless your recovery is on point.  


This is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Your gym or the workout place offering your desired format should be easily accessible to you and you should be motivated to train even on difficult days. “The reason I chose calisthenics over any other sports is the accessibility. Calisthenics doesn't require as much equipment and space as any other form of movement. Also, I never get bored because it has thousands of progressions in the exercises,” says Abhishek Kumar, a retail merchandiser based out of Delhi-NCR. Even if one modality interests you more than the others, it’s going to be hard for you to be consistent if it’s not affordable or accessible, and you will get into a rut of missing your workouts and falling off the wagon. 

No one form of fitness or modality is excellent and anyone claiming otherwise should be questioned. Your fitness routine should prioritize safety and personal preferences, with guidance from a qualified coach. Remember, the goal is not just to exercise but to move with intention, ensuring long-term health and vitality.

Anupama Shivacharya is an independent journalist and calisthenics coach based in Bengaluru.

Also read: Why you need to befriend the barbell at the gym



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