Helia Fitness women's group exercise

Being a Groupie is Great

Think aerobics classes died when Jane Fonda stopped making videos? Think again! Group exercise classes (a name change from cardio classes since incorporating more than just cardiovascular activities) are more popular than ever. Back in the 80’s, aerobics were only for young women who weren’t embarrassed to be seen jumping around in a thong. Today, group exercise classes are popping up everywhere including senior’s centres, community gyms, church basements, and personal training studios- demonstrating that exercising in a group is for any age or fitness level.

Ask any participant and they will tell you the number one reason they go – motivation. Despite initially not knowing any of the other class participants or even the instructor, group exercise classes motivate people to keep active. We’re creatures of habit, and so having a structured workout jives with that philosophy. Rather than worrying about what to do, for how long, and whether you’re doing moves correctly, all you have to do is show up and you’re guaranteed a good workout. It’s also motivating to “flow” with the music and do different moves that you’re not accustomed to, so that your mind can wander off of the clock that you inevitably stare at while on the treadmill. Others enjoy the social aspects of working out in a group setting, often bringing a girlfriend along and using that time to bond. Last but not least, let’s not forget how motivating the fitness instructor can be. She’s there to make exercise fun for you, something you definitely don’t get when working out on your own!

Apart from motivating individuals to get to the gym, research on the benefits of group exercise has supported the idea that group fitness classes help people adhere to exercising long after the class is over. In two studies involving older adults, it was found that people who had been trained to exercise in a group setting exercised more
frequently after the program was over than those who had been trained individually or those with no training (Brawley, Rejeski, Lutes, 2000; Rejeski et al., 2004). Similar results were found with a group of post-natal mothers: mothers who were trained in a group setting exercised more over 8 weeks than those that were not (Gardiner & Brawley, 2004).

Now before you run off to participate in a class, read these tips to ensure you get the most out of your group workouts:

1.Commitment
Try to enroll in program classes, where you sign-up for a set of classes. Group cohesion is a powerful motivating tool (read: you’ll feel obligated to go if you know that both the instructor and other participants in the class will be asking where you were next class), but it only forms once you get to know your cohorts.

2.Flattery
Introduce yourself to the instructor personally. There’s nothing more flattering to an instructor than a repeat participant, somebody who keeps coming back to your classes. Let the instructor know you enjoy her classes, and let her know your name. You’ll not only make her day, you’ll be more inclined to continue to go.

3.Communicate
Be open with your instructor. Most participants don’t realize that the instructor is truly eager to please you. Without people, there would be no need for instructors! Tell
the instructor what you want more or less of, or what type of music you like. She’ll gladly alter the class to your requests, and you’ll feel more part of the class next time
you go.

4.Play nice
Help motivate somebody else. Not only is it a great way to multitask chatting with a friend and working out, you now have somebody to be accountable to. Also, if your friend is new to exercising, you may be doing her a real favor by introducing and making her feel comfortable in group exercise classes. As they always say, there’s strength in numbers.

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