“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
If you’ve been going to the gym faithfully for months doing the same routine but not getting the results you feel you deserve you may need to change things up. Taking a group fitness class is one of the best ways to fire up your same-old-same-old so that you can start seeing some significant results again.
Here are the top ten reasons why you should join a group fitness class:
1. It Will Get Your Out Of A Rut – I’ve been around the gym for a few years now and I can tell you that people that go into the fitness center three times a week do practically the same workout every day. Most of the time it looks like this: thirty minutes on the treadmill (or elliptical) followed by some strength training using the machines.
When you do the same thing over and over your body adjusts to it and you cease to see any improvements in cardio endurance, muscle strength or weight loss. When you join a group fitness class you’ll do different exercises every day. Classes like boot camp, Tabata, and interval training offer a mental challenge that keeps you from getting bored and, at the same time, employs different muscle groups and heart rate ranges so you start seeing results again.
2. You’ll Do Stuff You’ve Never Done Before – Fitness instructors are a competitive bunch and they want to challenge you, and themselves, to be the best. I don’t know a fitness instructor that doesn’t want the class they teach to be the one that everyone talks about after they leave. This is why when you go to a group class you’ll do exercises you’ve never done before, and maybe some you never thought you could do.
You may not be inspired to try a BOSU or kettle ball workout on your own, but will learn how to use them if they’re part of a class. I asked the Y I work for to purchase gliding discs for us to use. Having a new toy to try out was fun but also very challenging. With the discs came an entirely set of new and unique exercises that worked our muscles in a very different way.
3. You’ll Meet People That Have Similar Goals – Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle mass, increase your endurance, or get 45 minutes of exercise three times a week, hanging around people that aspire to live a healthy lifestyle will provide you the support you need to reach your own healthy goals.
We have very little control over whether or not our work environment supports our healthy living quest. If our co-workers bring in donuts for breakfast and pizza for lunch, you’re going to need to have the willpower to not give in and join them. In a group fitness class you’ll find allies that will share similar goals and offer tips on some of the things that have helped them be successful. At the Y we not only help each other get strong in class, we help each other stay strong when it’s time to go back out into the world.
4. People Will Ask Where You’ve Been – You’d be surprised how not wanting to face an instructor or classmates that demand to know where you’ve been if you’ve missed a couple of classes can keep you attending a fitness class regularly. As an instructor I’ve had people tell me they came to class because if they missed I would want to know why they weren’t there.
I won’t track someone down if they’ve missed one or two classes, but if you’ve been a regular participant and all of a sudden stop coming, I’ll reach out to find out if something is wrong. I’ll also give you a hard time if you come in with a really lame excuse for missing class. Plus, if you’re like most class participants, you’ll find that if you miss a couple of classes you’ll lose your spot and end up in the front row. For some people, that alone is motivation to come to class.
5. You’ll Get A Well Rounded Work Out – Classes like CrossFit and HIIT are popular because they provide sets of cardiovascular and strength exercises. Both workouts mix cardio drills with muscle and core work so you’ll use a variety of muscle groups throughout the workout.
If your primary goal is to increase your cardio endurance you might choose a spinning or Turbo Kick class that focuses on pushing people into the target heart rate training zone and keeping them there. Want to work specifically on strength with a focus on core? Select a Pilates or Barre class. Mix the classes up for a well balanced program. Take spinning one day, Pilates another and HIIT the third.
6. There’s Energy In Numbers – The African proverb speaks to this. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. When you’re in a fitness class the energy that you get from the other members of the class will help you push through fatigue and move you beyond that voice in your brain that tells you it’s time to quit.
Plus, looking around to see that the other participants are still working will spark your competitive spirit. Unless you’re truly fatigued, chances are you won’t want to be the one to stop if everyone else is still moving.
7. The Music Keeps You Moving – High energy music is vital to successful group fitness classes and is in part what makes them so popular. No matter how blah you feel, when the music starts your energy level will pick up and the urge to move will hit you.
Most instructors use re-mixed music so you’ll hear songs you know and can sign along to at an upbeat tempo that inspires movement. Studies have shown that when people work out to music they tend to exercise longer and at a higher intensity. Studies have also revealed that music causes dopamine to be released into the brain making it a natural mood enhancer.
8. You’ll Improve Your Form – A large part of the group instructor certification process is dedicated to teaching proper cuing. Instructors will call out cues throughout the class that will provide you with instructions on how to execute specific moves properly. Some good examples are squats and lunges where an instructor may see that a participant’s hips are not in proper alignment and provide a tip for correcting this common error.
In a fitness class you’ll learn how to properly perform a wide range of exercises which is critical to reducing the risk of injury. And, you may find that some of the moves you’ve been doing for years can be more effective with a little tweaking.
9. You’ll Have A Role Model –Some of the most recognizable fitness icons in the industry, like Chalene Johnson, Jillian Michaels, Tony Horton and Cathe Friedrich, are inspirational instructors that have attained celebrity status because of their ability to motivate millions of people to follow their lead.
A good instructor will double as a positive role model and will influence you to reach your fitness goals. You may even find that you too aspire to be a fitness instructor and will have someone that will help you on that journey.
10. You Won’t Ever Get Bored – The options for group classes are endless. Mix them up so that you’re not doing the same class three times a week unless you absolutely love it. When you do start to feel that your motivation is starting to wane, pick another class that will challenge you in a different way.
If you’re not near a gym that offers classes, you can participate from home with the numerous on-line resources available. One of the best options is Lionsgate’s Be Fit channel that offers a variety of new workouts every week for free!
Over To You
The African Proverb says it all. When you work out in a group environment you’re much more likely to stick with it longer, enjoy it more, and go farther than you do when you’re flying solo.
What’s your favorite group fitness class?
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