I have been taking group class for over a decade (<–ewww, this sentence makes me feel old). I took my very first step class when I was around 18 years old. It was a sight to see – I had NO idea what I was doing, but I loved the instructor and the music. Despite being lost for most of the class, I remember everyone was very encouraging so I kept at it. I’m glad I stuck with it because I came to really enjoy the group setting.
Attending fitness classes has been very rewarding for me. And even though I enjoy working out on my own – both in a gym and at home – participating in group classes has been a great compliment to my routine. From cycling to yoga to body pump – there are a variety of class formats out there and each one offers its own benefits.
Here are my top 5 reasons for loving group fitness classes:
1. Learn the basics or advance your knowledge.
Group classes provide a great way to learn basic strength training techniques. They also help promote better body awareness and mechanics. A qualified instructor will be there to watch your form and ensure you are doing the movements properly. Not only does this allow you to gain the most out of each exercise, but it will help you avoid any possible injuries from improper execution. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to observe those around you. Recently a friend told me he started taking a weekly boot camp class as a way to learn how to perform strength movements before beginning his own weight training. He’s primarily a runner so this was a nice way to be introduced to strength work in a fun and comfortable setting.
2. Become part of a community.
There is something energizing about a group of people from a variety of fitness levels performing the same workout. Everyone can go through the movements together at their own pace. If you attend class(es) on a regular basis, chances are you’ll end up seeing the same people over and over. This is how a lot of fitness friendships are made. It’s also a great way to be kept accountable. In fact, a 2011 study published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise found that the exercise habits of people you know have a positive influence on your exercise habits. In other words, we encourage one another to keep coming back!
3. Promotes healthy competition.
Good, clean healthy competition can be a powerful motivator for people in a group setting. Obviously, we don’t want to compare ourselves to others in a negative way, but having someone next to meet on the treadmill or weight floor encourages me to keep going when I feel like stopping and prevents me from throwing in the towel. In fact, I often feel like I push myself more in a group setting than I would on my own. Not only will you have your instructor to motivate you, but your fellow classmates will be there to encourage and inspire you.
4. Challenges your body (and mind).
The variety that group classes offers will ensure you continue to be challenged. Incorporating different exercises keeps your body guessing and can help you bust through any fitness plateaus. The variety will also prevent you from getting bored or worse, quitting. I LOVE walking into a class not knowing what to expect. And it usually helps the class pass quickly. Time flies in my Orangetheory classes because there are constant intervals and we switch from the treadmills to the rowers to the weight floor.
5. The Instructors!
The instructors make.all.the.difference. Anyone can teach classes, but it takes a good instructor to keep a group of people engaged. The best trainers are those who understand your time is valuable and want you to get the most out of your experience. I appreciate instructors who are upbeat, attentive, and knowledgeable. I want to know someone is paying attention and they haven’t checked out. It’s very obvious when someone is just going through the motions.
Your turn: What do you love most about group classes?
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