Group Fitness Classes: Yay or Nay?

Since I teach cycle and boot camp group fitness classes, I’m sure you can guess my stance on group fitness classes. But I guess it’s confession time… About 3 years ago, before I taught group fitness, I attended my first step class at the very gym I now teach my own classes at. I walked in with my best friend, excited and ready to bring back the 80s. In my head, step aerobics made me think of my favorite Saved by the Bell episode where the girls were dressed in leg warmers and spandex making a music video. Unfortunately, I did not get to live out my Kelly Kapowski dream because the step instructor started the class by saying “Hi, follow along as we start our first exercise.” Even before I became a certified instructor, I could tell this was a bad way to start a class. No warm welcome, no explanation for a newbie and definitely no calm for my nerves as a newbie. The peppy instructor immediately started on a routine that made me feel ridiculous. The step choreography was not only advanced but seemed like a memorized routine. I tried to stay positive, push through my embarrassment and discouragement but I couldn’t. After I turned left when I should have turned right, bumped into an older gentleman who shouted excuse me rudely, I gave the look to my friend. We both knew we couldn’t stay in the class. We quickly and quietly grabbed our steps, glad to have set up in the back and ran out of there.

Besides my own incident, I have heard horror stories of rude instructors, unsafe practices in class, high school status mean girls and on and on. These are the reasons people often say Nay to group fitness classes. As an instructor and fellow group fitness class attendee, these reasons break my heart.

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Group fitness classes have so much to offer people of all ages. I think the key is finding the right class for you. If someone asked me what my favorite class to teach is I would have to say boot camp. Yet my favorite class to attend is definitely cycle. Why? Because each class has its own benefits. I like the encouragement I get from certain classes while another class offers a cardio workout. Depending on what I trying to accomplish I can find a class that will suit my workout needs for the day.

I think the #1 reason that group fitness is a Yay in my book is the camaraderie. People of all ages and athletic levels can and should be able to attend classes. The right instructor in a class will be able to modify or intensify any workout to better suit individual needs. One of my boot camp classes is the prime example of a diverse group that can be offered. Men, women, 18 year olds, 50 year olds, athletes, members wanting to lose weight, members trying to gain muscle, parents, students and couples. This mixed group of people are the prime example for group camaraderie as they cheer each other on through each circuit and exercise. They make sure to reach out to new people during class and help set up each week. It is no wonder this class has the highest retention rate. If I was not an instructor for the class I would be attending every week as a member.

Another advantage to group fitness classes is the consistency you get when attending. You are able to show up to the gym and have a pre made workout done for you. Whether Pilates, cycle or kickboxing, you show up to class with someone else doing the planning for you. Group fitness helps to take out the thought of your workout allowing you the chance to simply work. In addition, this helps to combat boredom with your workouts. Many fitness articles will tell you to change it up, try different workouts and keep your muscles guessing. You are allowing your workouts to do just this without having to plan it yourself.

Lastly, I think a benefit is the group fitness environment promotes a challenge. By having the camaraderie you are pushed and motivated to power through an exercise. With the consistency of the workout you are given a foundation to build and improve on. As a regular attendee of a class, you should be challenged in each workout, allowing you to improve- whether by adding more resistance, increasing your weights or improving your pace. Especially when combined with regular attendance, consistency helps to build the challenge of a class.

At the end of the day, group fitness classes may not be for everyone. Some may not like the pressure of having to be social while some may like their quiet time during their gym session. In addition, not all classes are for everyone. I have met many members who attend a different class every day while another member swears only by one type of class and one instructor who teaches it. Everyone must do what they love and enjoy.

So tell me: Group fitness classes- yay or nay?
If so what is your favorite group fitness class?

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