Group classes mean better workouts for you
When it comes to exercise, whether your goal is to lose a few pounds or just stay active, staying motivated is key. A workout partner can push you to your best results. A great way to discover that drive and keep it going is alongside others in a group exercise class.
“We are social beings who can benefit from social exercise. Group exercise is fun and motivating,”
says Jennifer Carter, PhD.Jennifer Carter, PhD, is Lead Sport Psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. As a former competitive swimmer and volleyball player, Carter knows all about exercising with others and shares some of the pros and cons of group exercise classes.
Pro: You will stay motivated
First, and foremost, participating in a group fitness class can help you stay motivated to reach your fitness goals. Why’s that? Because you’re in a room full of people trying to reach the same goal -- to become more fit.
Chances are that they or the instructor are encouraging you to give it your all and not just go through the motions.
Pro: You’ll get a better workout
Yes, it’s true! Working out with others and not just by yourself often results in increased performance. Why? Because the instructor is usually pushing you harder than you’d do on your own, and you’re surrounded by others who are working just as hard. You’ll feel a sense of competition to match others’ effort and exertion levels.
Pro: You’re accountable to others
Sometimes the hardest part is going to that first class. But once you cross that threshold, you’re part of the group and the more you show up, the more your accountability increases.
For example, if you miss a session, a group member may say, “Missed seeing you on Monday.” Knowing that other group members notice your absence can help keep you accountable.
Pro: Group exercise classes are affordable
While the cost of group classes varies widely, most times it’s free with your gym membership - such is the case at Ohio State Health & Fitness in New Albany.
Even if you have to pay per class, chances are that a month’s worth of classes is less than one or two personal training sessions.
Carter says this tendency to perform better in the presence of others is called social facilitation. “For example, I’m a very social person and put forth more effort swimming with a team than on my own,” she says.
Even though you aren’t on an official team, you’ll also feel the sense of not wanting to let down your teammates.
Pro: You can learn new exercises
Engage both your mind and body. Variety – which spices things up – will have you working different muscles than your normal workout routine.
Cons of group exercise classes
If you’re intimidated by groups or prefer being by yourself, classes won’t be a good fit. You’d probably be better off working out on your own or with a personal trainer if you can’t get the moves down right or the class is too easy, says Carter.
Keep in mind that some group exercise classes like CrossFit, yoga, Zumba, kickboxing and step aerobics can have a learning curve so you may need to get a few classes under your belt until you start feeling more comfortable than awkward.
But when the classes are properly instructed and well attended, chances are good that you’ll become hooked and want to keep going back. And the bonus is that you’ll probably lose weight while gaining a friend or two.