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Health & Fitness: Group Effort

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By Kim Duke

NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

We all know that exercise is very important to our well-being.  It helps improve your mood, your fitness level and your overall health. But, getting exercise in each and every week requires some dedication. And, if you are like so many people struggling to jumpstart their fitness journey, you are not really sure where to begin.

I started my own fitness journey/addiction way back in the 80’s with a classic aerobics class.  Between the music, the motivating instructors and the energy provided by the group itself, I became a dedicated participant. “The single biggest benefit is community,” said Tim Keightley, who oversees group fitness at Gold’s Gym, which has more than 600 locations around the world. “You meet a community of people so it’s a lot harder not to come back next week.”

Not only do group exercisers visit the gym more often, they are more likely to renew their memberships, according to Keightley, who said industry figures show that group exercisers use the gym about three times a week to the average gym member who goes 1.7 times.

Here are some reasons why group fitness works:

Motivation

Unless you’re that rare person that can jump out of bed at 5 a.m. and hit the ground running, odds are that getting and staying motivated are difficult for you. You are not alone. The majority of the people I’ve worked with over the years have had the same problem. That’s one of the great things about the group setting. Many people who attend a class will show up exhausted from the ups and downs of everyday life. But once they join the group, they become re-energized. With a friendly fitness instructor there to light a fire under you rear, it can’t get any better.

Not only are you more motivated to get out of bed and exercise, but also there’s the motivation to improve your current fitness level. If you work out with people who are faster, stronger or fitter than you, you are probably going to get in better shape. There’s an old saying that goes, “The lead dog sets the pace for the rest of the pack.” Think about it.

Accountability

Once you join a group fitness class, you’ll not only find yourself feeling more fit, but you will also come to realize when you are not there, the group notices. I’ve had countless clients over the years at Core Performance Fitness say, “I wouldn’t be there in the morning/evening if I didn’t know that Kim, Mila, and Debbie, etc. were going to give me a hard time for not showing up.”

Group Camaraderie

Human beings are social creatures. Yes, a few are hermits and recluses, but the majority of us love to be around other people. We love to laugh, joke and have fun. I feel this is one of the greatest products of a group workout setting. Nothing brings people closer quite like misery and physical suffering. If you’ve ever done a boot camp or similar class, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Many people sign up to get more fit and along the way become friends through this mutual ritual. Many become lifelong best friends. My classes not only work hard together, but they play hard together.

Finally, in a world where we’ve become so dependent on email and texting, working out with a group offers that human interaction that is slowly disappearing. We can do just about everything today virtually without ever talking to a person. That is outside of a group fitness setting. With group fitness, you have to get involved. You can try to escape to the back of the pack, but a good instructor will integrate you into the group whether you like or not. That’s why it’s called group dynamics, and that’s why technology will never replace the good, old-fashioned group workout. Get out of your cubicle, your car or your house and go meet other people that share a common interest with you. You never know— you might just meet some real friends instead of the ones you find online.

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