Working out as part of a group has many benefits, from structure and supervision to the social factor. While there are tons of reasons to love group fitness classes, we’ve rounded up nine reasons that can be applied to everything from spin to yoga. Try a group class for yourself, and you just might find your new favorite way to workout — and make like-minded friends along the way.
THE MOTIVATION FACTOR
Visit the gym solo, and you’ve got to be your own coach, which means it’s often easier to scroll through your playlist than it is to run another mile or attempt another set on the bench press. Work out with a group, and the motivation takes care of itself, as the instructor encourages you to keep moving.
Studies have shown a person works harder as a member of a group than they do when working alone. This phenomenon is called the Köhler effect, and it all comes down to the fact no one wants to be the weakest link.
Many group classes require you to register in advance and most charge fees if you no-show. That little hit to your wallet is great motivation to show up, even if your bed or couch is beckoning. Once class is over, you’ll be glad you went, because almost no one regrets working out.
BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
Research from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine showed that working out in a group may be better for physical and mental health than working out alone. Participants who exercised as a group during the 12-week study reported better mental, physical and emotional quality of life measures than solo exercisers and also reported a 26.2 percent reduction in perceived stress levels.
THEY’RE EXPERT LED
Unless you’ve got a weight regimen or HIIT session memorized, it can be difficult to string together a solid workout on your own. But in group classes, the format and specific exercises are all decided ahead of time by a professional. Just follow along, and you can focus solely on the workout.
Caveat: Group classes range from light and easy to very intense, so safety is relative to your health and fitness level. But rather than attempting to hoist a loaded barbell or trying some newfangled machine on your own, in a group class, you’ll have the supervision of a fitness professional who’s available to offer tips and correct your form.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The possibilities are almost endless. You’ve got HIIT, yoga, Pilates, spin, boxing, boot camps and a variety of other options to keep your workouts interesting and varied. If you find something you like and want to stick with it, great. If you want to shop around, trying as many classes as you can, also great. Either way, you’re exercising.
Between the upbeat music and the we’re-all-in-this-together atmosphere, group classes can provide a surge of positive energy. Which means you might find yourself smiling even when the workout itself is exhausting.
Show up to a particular class and you just entered a room full of other people interested in that class, so there’s your ice breaker. Make it a habit and you’ll start to see the same like-minded people week after week. Add in the rush of endorphins you get from exercising, and you’ve got a real chance to make friends with those around you.
IT BREEDS CONSISTENCY
Your average group workout class occurs daily, usually multiple times per day. So you’ve got plenty of options for making the class fit into your schedule. Best of all, you can sign up in advance, so you’ll always know where to be. Having a consistent schedule, rather than a sporadic go-if-you-feel-like-it plan, can lead to long-lasting habits.