Why group exercise classes can be the route to consistent enjoyment – and success!

Consistency is the holy grail of exercise and fitness but the reason those die-hards stick with it year-round is pretty simple – they’ve found something they really enjoy!

For some, the solitude of headphones and a lone gym workout might be just the prescription required to transport them from a high-stress existence but for many the motivation required just leads to another excuse to avoid exercise all-together. That’s where the group fitness environment comes into its own and scores so highly.

For a start, if you put your name down for a class on a given day and time you’re far more likely to stick to the appointment. Add the company of a friend – or a group of work colleagues – and exercise becomes a sociable pursuit. And that “Sorry, I can’t make it today” text is just that little bit harder to send when someone else is relying on you (and vice-versa).

Research shows people experience increased levels of enjoyment and heightened feelings of satisfaction as well as working harder in a group setting (a little bit of friendly rivalry really is good for mind and body).

But there’s an important health message as well. Those exercising in a group enjoyed reductions in body mass, body fat percentage and total cholesterol as well as elevations in oxygen consumption and their lean body mass. And, on average, they delayed the onset of cardiovascular disease by three and half years. Not a bad bonus for having an hour of fun with friends once or twice a week is it?

Back to that latest research. It looked at the fitness experiences of almost 100 people at the same facility over a two-week period and identified the powerful role “the group effect” plays in positively influencing our overall workout experiences and, crucially, the likelihood that we’ll stick at it and come back for more.

And if images of lycra-clad, muscle-bound devotees has been putting you off signing up for a class– don’t let it! Not only are the vast majority of people attending exactly the same as each other (they’re mostly there to get the heart pumping, shed a few pounds and have a fun hour in a sociable setting) there really is a waistline-zapping choice available.

If you want to go “hard-core”, there are things like Grit, Body Pump, Zumba, Combat Fitness, Insanity (just as it says!), Spinning and Body Attack. Don’t be put-off by the names –  knowledgeable, friendly instructors like nothing more than welcoming new people.

At the other end of the scale are classes in yoga, Pilates and PiYo (a mix of the two) as well as “gentle” aerobics and aqua aerobics options and sessions for the “more mature”. These are all designed to get you active at a less intense pace or in a way that benefits the mind as much as it does the body – and that’s pretty important in our fast-paced, high-stress world.

And, because the choice is so wide, don’t be afraid to try a few classes out to see which ones you like best. As with most things in life, one size doesn’t fit all, so experiment and you’ll hopefully soon find one that gives you the exercise “bug”.

Whatever your preference, because the group exercise setting is sociable, it’s fun. And because it’s fun, it becomes habit-forming.  Like we said, “simple”!


A version of this blog was written for – and was first published on – the Sencio Community Leisure website: http://www.sencio.org.uk/why-group-exercise-classes-can-be-the-route-to-consistent-enjoyment-and-success/