The fitness scene looks different now than a decade ago, and the biggest change I see is the move from big box chain gyms to boutique studios focusing on community and classes. While I enjoy a variety of ways to workout – at home, solo at the gym, classes, run groups, etc. – group exercise has a solid place in my routine for good reason.
If you haven’ been to a fitness class in a while, they have had a major facelift from the days of Jane Fonda!
You can find a class for just about any type of workout, from cardio kickboxing to yoga surf and everything in between. If you’re new to exercise, I totally understand how walking into a class can be intimidating, and if you always workout solo, you might be hesitant to stray from your personal routine.
I get it, and I’m not writing this to tell you that group exercise is the be-all-end-all of fitness! However, I do want to highlight a few positive ways group exercise can benefit your exercise routine (or lack thereof!)
Community and Accountability
Personally, I think this is the biggest benefit of group exercise. Even though I am one of those rare (and possibly annoying) birds who doesn’t have trouble holding themselves accountable to exercise plans, taking part in a fitness class makes it even easier to show up each and every time.
Especially when you go to the same class(es), the instructor and other participants will notice when you skip. Even if they don’t, you’ll assume that they will and that can be enough to get your butt in class!
The community aspect of fitness classes is so refreshing. I went to an Orange Theory class a few weeks ago at a new-to-me location and the participants at the 6pm class seemed to all know each other, and the front desk staff. Sure, your workout itself isn’t different, but when I go do my own thing it’s just that, on my own. You may be surprised at how encouraging it can be to see the same faces week after week, and how the outside accountability can make it seem like not working out is not an option.
Built in Routine
Habits are simply actions you do routinely. Do something routinely enough and you don’t even think about it, you just do. Some of us are self-reliant enough they let nothing get in the way of their workouts. For many of us, it’s too easy to let the day get in the way or to make excuses that push our workouts off our plate.
The great thing about classes is that not only do they start at a certain time, they are at the same time each week making it easy for you to schedule around. Once you find a class you enjoy, make that part of your week. Morning classes are always a good option since working late won’t interfere, plus there are not nearly as many people in them
For better or worse there is a ton of information on creating a n effective workout routine. You can make up your own with great success, however if you aren’t into reading about fitness, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of info out there.
Group exercise instructors are certified to create and teach the classes you attend meaning all you have to do is show up and follow along! Plus, you’ll get hands-on instruction on form, insuring you’re doing the exercises correctly.
Before getting certified as a Health Coach, I got my Personal Training certification and I still enjoy classes because I’m not having to think of what to do next. Also, when you go to classes, you’re building your arsenal of exercises so when you do want to workout on your own you have a backlog of exercises to pick from.
Even if you can push yourself on your own, there always seems to be a few more reps completed when an instructor is counting down. With the group around you, you aren’t going to stop with two more to go like you may be be inclined to do when working out solo!
Aside from the pumping music, having a great instructor as a constant motivator does wonders on the mental aspect of your workout. Having someone remind you why you came to the gym, to distract you while you’ve got 20 more seconds in a plank, and to high five you after a tough set feels amazing no matter how seasoned of a gym goer you are.
Even studios that focus on one modality – barre, spin, kickboxing, etc. – offer a variety of class styles. Even better are studios that offer a wide range of class styles which is becoming more and more popular. This is a great way to cross train and ensure you fit in a range of intensities as opposed to doing the same exercises at the same level week after week.
I like to get at least one strength, cardio, and yoga workout in each week, and signing up or planning which classes I’ll attend at the start of the week makes it easy.
I encourage you to try some classes at your gym, take that new studio up on their free week trials, or get go as a guest with a friend to their favorite class. Learn what type of class you enjoy and the instructor style that motivates you, and make it part of your routine.
Classpass has made it easy and fun to discover new classes near you, without signing up for a monthly membership. I have been using it since this summer and have found a number of studios and classes I love and wouldn’t have tried otherwise. Whether you use it long term, or just a couple months to find a studio that works with your schedule and budget, it’s a great tool for finding some awesome studios and instructors.