The Benefits of Group Workouts

group of women doing aerobics

How Exercise Classes Push You to Succeed

On the verge of New Year’s, it’s easy to put off working out. But, while getting motivated for the New Year might be an easy way to make a “fresh start”, what about getting motivated now, today, to stave off the unwanted weight?

If this sounds like a tall order, you’re right.  The idea of up and starting a new workout (or starting to workout in general) can seem unbearably daunting.  That’s why we make it a New Year’s Resolution- so we can do it later.

Luckily, most gyms know this and, to encourage you to start the “New You Now”, in a safe environment, they offer readymade classes for people of all shapes and sizes.

For most, group exercise can be motivating with instructors and classmates being supportive and encouraging.  But for some, group exercise can seem intimidating and, ultimately, demotivating. The best way to avoid this? Be honest with yourself, your instructor and your classmates.  Own how you feel.

At the beginning of the workout teachers usually ask if anyone is new.  This is the scariest part.  Raise your hand and say, “yes, I’m new.” It’s perfectly okay to speak up and let everyone know you’ve never done this before, you’re scared, you’re out of shape and you need their encouragement.  And guess what, no one in the class will look at you and sneer behind your back.  They’ve been there to.  People are in group classes for a reason: they all need the encouragement.  So when you tell them what you need they’ll cheer you on and congratulate you for making the first step.

Aside from the encouragement you’ll get from class, group workouts provide a number of other benefits you can’t get from working out alone.

  • Accountability – Group classes have a set schedule and people generally go to them regularly.  You’ll start to get to know the people around you, become friends and may even find an accountability partner who will keep you from skipping classes and making excuses. Even if an accountability partner isn’t for you, you’ll notice you hold others accountable when they don’t show.  And it is the best feeling in the world when that rock star who outshines everyone in squats skips a day, but you still made it- even though your muscles are dying from two days before.
  • Form – Even if you’re not new to working out, group classes are a great way to check in on your form.  Want to try something new? Need help getting the deadlift down or not quite sure of how to adjust your bike? Maybe there’s a move in your WAFFL workout you need a little extra help with.  Get to class early or stay late to ask for help. Remember people become personal trainers because they want to help you succeed.  Let them do that! And the more you talk to the trainers and ask for help, the more they recognize you.  It’s awesome to hear them call you out during class with words of encouragement and affirmations of improvement.
  • Energy – WAFFL Personal Trainer Felisa Vicente-Ucles has taught group exercise for twelve years. She points out that in class people share energy. “Some people’s energy pushes others to move.” So when you’re in class don’t be discouraged that you can’t keep up with the go getter in the front row.  Instead, feed off of her energy, and use it to inspire you to work harder.
  • Experience – You may be new now, but after a couple of classes you’ll start to pick up on the routine of the workout. Vicente-Ucles notes, “You get to know the movements, you know what to expect.” Once you know what to do you can focus on adding weight, peddling faster or squatting deeper.
  • Cost – The price of working out discourages a lot of people, especially those who feel they won’t see results if they don’t have personal one-on-one training. The great thing about group classes is that you get a trainer; you just share her with others. Because of this classes are much more affordable than personal trainers. If you already belong to a gym, your membership will most likely already include some form of a group workout. Remember, just because there are others in class it doesn’t mean you won’t get the attention you deserve.  The purpose of a class is to help individuals workout safely, so instructors will make sure to keep an eye on your form.
  • Classes designed for you – The American College of Sports Medicine points out that group classes are designed with purpose by knowledgeable people who know how to get your results. “When people exercise on their own, they often skip portions of a workout they know less about or are not their favorite to perform. Furthermore, the fitness professional is not only designing the components of the workout, but also the intensity, so the class is designed appropriately to improve cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness. The fitness professional can also serve as a resource for class participants and encourage them to engage in other healthy behaviors outside of class.”
  • Adjustments – If you’re injured or pregnant you can still workout!  Just let the instructor know and they’ll offer up adjustments for each exercise during class.

Vicente-Ucles offers up one final tip.  Use classes in conjunction with your WAFFL workouts.  Maybe you just want to take one class that’s offered, use WAFFL the other days.  “If it’s a cardio class you can use that as a cardio day on the app. Or use specific programs on the app, abs program or Tabata to push the extra mile to achieve your goals.”

 

Source: ACSM
Photo: CDC/ Amanda Mills acquired from Public Health Image Library (Website)

 

Megan Russell

by Megan Russell, Freelance Writer

Megan Russel is a freelance writer and editor based in Austin Texas. Her interests include people, health and fitness, art, books and science. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Kansas.

She writes for WAFFL as well as number of online and print publications. Megan can be contacted on her website meganwhitneyrussell.wordpress.com.