When I was in high school (ahem, many years ago), I remember my two best friends being so excited to drive to the next city to take a Pilates class. I thought they were nuts. We were already required to exercise in P.E. class, and now they wanted to pay for the privilege? I had zero interest in forking over my limited funds so that I could sweat and struggle in front of perfect strangers. No thank you.
I did join a gym years later, but the truth is that I only did so to impress the guy I was dating. I found the cheapest membership price possible, because I was not going to pay a ridiculous $30 a month just for the opportunity to exercise.
So I started working out to impress someone else, which is the worst possible reason for doing so, but it worked out because I fell in love—with the gym. I fell in love with how being fit made me feel, how much more energy my workouts gave me, and how my gym time felt like “me time.”
My first gym had shiny group exercise rooms with huge mirrors and funky equipment. Posters showed people dancing, lifting, or cycling in a state of sweat-induced group euphoria. I still wasn’t buying it.
But years later I moved to a new area and was in serious need of some friends, so I worked up my courage and signed up for my first group exercise class. It was yoga at my local senior center. (I was in my twenties, but senior yoga seemed non-threatening enough for me to handle). I walked in with my thrift-store workout gear and began to fall in love with a whole new type of fitness: group fitness.
I haven’t loved every class I’ve ever taken, but I do think that everyone can find a class they will love. Indulge me while I share the basics of why you should at least give group exercise a shot.
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1. You’ll stick with it. Seriously.
Group fitness is great for building exercise plan adherence. If you love Zumba® and it’s only offered at 6pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then you won’t be able to convince yourself that you can do it later. Plus, the elliptical machine won’t ask, “Will I see you next week?” But your instructor or a new friend might, and it’s a huge motivator knowing that someone will be looking for you or even reserving a spot for you.
Also, variety is critical when it comes to not growing bored with your workout routine, and classes are an easy way to keep things fresh. Even individual classes will regularly change their choreography and moves, and the changes in routine will keep your body guessing, which means you’ll keep making gains. There’s nothing more satisfying, or addicting, than seeing yourself make positive changes!
I should warn you: group exercise is highly addictive. There’s probably at least a few people in every class who used to hate to exercise, but now can’t get enough of their favorite workout fix. The next addict could be you (really)!
2. You will too fit in.
Exercise classes are filled with all types. Unless you go to a high-end, pricey boutique studio where everyone’s leggings cost at least $100, you’ll find people of all sizes, experience levels, and walks of life. You may very well meet a Little-Miss-Fitness or two, but they’ll likely be so happy to have you try their favorite class that they’ll help you get set up and tell you about the best instructors. Group fitness participants love their classes, and they love to see new people trying out their favorites—it’s a clique that always wants to welcome new members.
A good fitness instructor will be able to offer modifications to those who need them and will encourage you to go at your own pace, so there’s no need to worry that you won’t be able to keep up. Group classes are all about people helping each other achieve individual success.