Keeping Fit: Struggling with exercise? Try group fitness | Lifestyles

Amanda Gerla

Do you ever struggle with getting regular exercise? Do you sometimes wonder what you should be doing when you do go to the gym? Does exercise sometimes just seem too tiring and boring? Then you may find regular participation in group fitness classes to be just the answer you need.

You don’t need to go it alone, or try to figure this all out on your own. There is tremendous power in social support. A study published in the Journal of Social Sciences found that participants gravitate toward becoming more regular exercisers when they see the people around them also making an effort. The healthy actions of others tends to rub off on us emotionally, mentally and physically and helps us carry through on our good intentions. But regular participation in group fitness classes helps us in other ways as well.

Boosting motivation

When it comes to going to the gym, many of us struggle because of lack of energy or other excuses.

Once we do get to the gym, many of us don’t have the motivation to consistently follow through entire workouts or exercise routines with the intensity needed to produce good results.

So how can a group exercise class motivate you to work out? Well, it is very simple. Group classes begin with rhythmic warmups that make you use your energy to focus more on the beat of the music instead of thinking how long it is going to take to finish a good workout. You lose track of time as you get caught up in the beat, and it encourages you to work harder in your fitness journey.

Group classes are also fun. Seeing everyone around you sticking to their workout doesn’t allow you to quit. It can bring out a fun, competitive spirit. Even if you are tired and feel you cannot do any more, certified instructors encourage you to keep moving and provide modifications to the exercise if necessary for you to continue.

Avoiding distraction

For too many these days, even if they do make it to the gym and start exercising, it only takes a few minutes before someone calls or texts on the cellphone and then boom, a major distraction from the workout sets in. This can lead to workouts taking longer than necessary, encourage poor posture and form, not enough concentration on breathing correctly (which is very important), and possible injury.

Group classes are beneficial because they divert you from such distractions. You can’t text and train at the same time in a group fitness class. They have a tendency to make you travel through time going along with the rhythm of the music and different phases of your workout. Group classes are an ideal way to give you a break from your phone. Most calls can wait.

Preplanned routines

We can easily get frustrated when we are faced with having to plan our own workout routine. It can almost be overwhelming for some people who have never had to create their own workouts before.

When thinking about planning, we have to consider which muscles to train, what are the best exercises to train that muscle, how many reps and sets need to be performed to have a successful workout and so on. This is where group classes can be beneficial. They offer a variety of class selections and times to choose from with full body routines where you know everything is getting covered and you just have to follow along with the instructor. You can leave all that stress and worry about planning behind. Qualified instructors will guide you through your entire workout.

Final thoughts

According to Kansas State University professor Brandon Irwin, “Certain fitness goals are like preparing to run a marathon. Consider exercising not only with someone else, but with someone who is much better.”

We are already social beings, but exercising with others — especially when they are a bit better than us — causes us to give a greater effort than when we train alone.

I have experienced this personally, both as a participant and as an instructor.

When I work out during group classes, I have the natural urge to do my best, get and keep motivated without distractions, and strive to keep pace with participants with similar aspirations who are in the same exercise group class.

And then, when it is over, I have the additional benefit of leaving the gym feeling mentally, as well as physically, satisfactory with no need to do extra activities outside class.

So I encourage you, if you are looking for a way to melt stress away, meet new friends and get regular health-promoting exercise into your day that is fun and focused without needing to plan, join a group fitness class.

Come on in, put your phone on silent and we will take care of the rest.

Antonio Bravo is a fitness consultant at the Bradley Wellness Center.

Antonio Bravo is a fitness consultant at the Bradley Wellness Center.

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