The Benefits of Group Fitness Classes
I used to be a guy who worked out on his own and loved it. I used to walk into the gym thinking I knew exactly what I was doing – thinking I had a foolproof plan to get jacked, and thinking I was in an environment that would push me to be better. Worst of all, I thought I was in good shape.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I see it over and over again, people coming from classic gym settings that get dragged into a “group fitness” class that think they’re all it. They’ve done their bicep curls and wander-around-the-gym-looking-in-the-mirror routine for years and feel like they’re about to crush the workout. Then, once the class workouts starts, they quickly learn they aren’t in as good of shape as they thought they were. I was one of those people.
Of course I understand that everyone has different goals. Some people just want to get their biceps big. Some people do all of their research and end up following a really good plan. However, from experience I can tell you (not only from myself, but from thousands of people who have been through our gym doors) that there are some benefits to group classes for the general population that you just won’t get in a classic gym.
You Have A Coach
The first and most important benefit to group fitness classes is that you have a coach there watching your every move. A good coach will make sure you can perform the movements safely and with proper form before allowing you to use weights. A good coach will teach you how to use the correct muscles through audible and visual cues so that you are getting the most out of your workout. A good coach will modify a workout to fit your specific needs so that you see faster progress. Even if you know the correct form on movements and know the theory behind various exercises, you can’t watch yourself exercise in real time and give yourself cues anywhere near as efficiently as a good coach could. Unbiased 3rd party coaching is invaluable for progress.
You Can’t Cherry-Pick Workouts
Back when I was “in good shape” at a regular weight room, I really liked the bench press and pull ups. Want to guess what I would do every day? Bench press and pull ups. You know what I was terrible at? Squatting (turns out I didn’t even know how to squat), running, and all deadlifting movements. Want to guess what I never worked on because I didn’t want to look stupid? Yeah, you get it.
The workout is already written for you in a group class. All you need to do is show up, and it’s not like you’re going to leave right when you figure out what you’re going to do! Is there running in the class workout? Looks like you’re going to run! You always used to skip squats, but today the class is learning how to squat PROPERLY, so you finally are going to work on it. From our experience, it’s very easy to skip the movements you don’t want to work on when you’re working out on your own – people are MUCH more likely to work on their weaknesses when they are in a class and everyone is working on them together!
It’s More Motivating
When you’re working out on your own and you start to get tired, your planned “5 sets of push ups” can quickly turn into “3 is good enough”. Nobody’s watching you or holding you accountable. In a group fitness setting, that’s no longer true.
The way we do classes is that we write a very good workout and then scale it to different ability levels. That means 70 year old Barb is doing the same workout with 25 year old Tim, but we have scaled the workout back for Barb so that she is using lighter weights and modified movements. However, when everyone in the class is doing the same workout, a certain level of competitiveness or shared motivation tends to take over and people push much harder. If I’m in the middle of a workout and I’m incredibly tired, I will look over and see Barb absolutely crushing it and realize I can push a little harder. When my good buddy is catching up to me on a run and I know he’s going to crush me on the push ups we have coming up, I’m going to push way harder on the run than I would ever have if I were running on my own.
Similarly, the extremely fit men and women that finished the workout before you? They know what you are going through and are sitting there cheering you on to the finish line.
Shared suffering and being surrounded by likeminded individuals is VERY motivating thing. You will never push as hard as you will when you have a group of people cheering you on and working out with you.
It’s More Fun!
There’s a reason places like CrossFit gyms get called a “cult” by outsiders. It’s because everyone seems to be friends with each other in the group. To someone who’s never experienced it I can completely understand why it seems weird, but the fact of the matter is that going through classes with a group of people – just like going on trips with people or playing a sport together – will bring them together. You are vulnerable in a fitness class and that often breeds close friendships with others who are going through the same thing with you.
We strongly encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone and try a fitness class, such as our classes at GuitarTown Athletics. We’re confident you’ll get in better shape, you’ll push harder, and you’ll make some great friends along the way.