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Impact vs. Intensity: How to Get the Most out of Your Workout

A lot of people confuse the terms intensity and impact when talking about their workouts. Intensity, also referred to as exertion, is the amount of difficulty, energy and effort you’re putting into your work out. Impact refers to the amount of force on your body used in a particular exercise. There’s also:

  • high impact, high intensity workouts
  • low impact, high intensity workouts,
  • low impact, low intensity (wait- isn’t that just relaxing?)

How do you keep them all straight, and which is best for you? We’ll break it down for you!

What's a high impact exercise? What's a low impact exercise? What's best or me?


High impact exercises are those such as jumping rope, burpees, squat jumps, long jumps, and running. When both feet are leaving the ground at the same time, it’s usually a higher impact workout. High impact exercises strengthen your heart and lungs, and improve stability, balance, and coordination. This type of workout is not good for everyone, however - too much high impact exercise can lead to overuse injuries, and is not recommended for those with joint problems or arthritis. However, low impact exercises such as walking, dancing, upper body twists and bends, leg lifts and curls, can be a great exercise without the potential to get injured or further damage an injury.




Low and high impact exercises vary mostly due to their intensity level. Walking is typically considered a low intensity exercise, while running is usually categorized as high intensity. It all depends on how difficult the exercise feels to you while you’re doing it, also referred to as your rate of perceived exertion, which you can calculate yourself! Your heart rate is another indicator of how intense your workout is. Any workout that has cardiovascular elements are high intensity exercises, if you feel that heart rate pumping up, up, up—it’s intense!   

Low impact, high intensity level exercises are best for those who want to improve their overall fitness, flexibility, and cardiovascular strength. Low impact exercises are also recommended for those with prior injuries, to avoid overstraining them, and for those new to working out, to prevent any injuries. PILOXING classes such as the classic PILOXING SSP or PILOXING Barre, where participants have a ballet barre for stability and can keep one foot on the ground at all times, are perfect low impact, high intensity exercises. Dance classes in general, like PILOXING Barre and The MIX by PILOXING, are typically great low impact, high intensity workouts that will get you sweating, your heart pumping, and your body moving without overly exerting yourself. You’ll see and feel these results! 




High impact, high intensity workouts such as the clPILOXING Knockout classes, combine plyometrics (jumping) with boxing, both typically high impact exercises. These workouts improve fitness levels for beginners while maintaining and building endurance for intermediate and advanced athletes. With these higher impact classes, you’ll see overall muscle endurance and definition while improving your stamina and overall fitness level. Not to mention having FUN.


It’s important to remember that your workout classes, perceived level of exertion, and low/high impact preferences are just that—YOURS. If you feel you’ve over exerted yourself after a group fitness class, and not in a good way, slow down your impact or intensity level. If you feel you’re not pushing yourself hard enough during a workout, you probably aren’t! Experiment with different intensity and impact levels, take different types of group fitness classes, and challenge yourself with new workout techniques. It takes time to figure out what’s best for you, but in the end, all that matters is that you’re working to improve your overall health, you feel great, and you’re having fun!

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