Strength in Numbers: Benefits of Group Fitness

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It can be hard to convince someone to get involved in a group fitness class. Some people may feel self-conscious exercising in front of others. That's understandable. We live in a culture where we constantly compare ourselves to others, which is not a healthy way of living. But group exercise can really impact your life for the better—even more so than your individual fitness plan. Here are ways group exercise can enhance your fitness routine.

You are not alone.
If you're new to fitness, whether it's a new routine, a new style or you're just starting from scratch, going it alone can be intimidating. You're not sure if you're doing the exercises right, what exercises to do or how many times you should do them. In group fitness, you have a trainer that leads the class, explains the moves and works with the class to make sure everyone is doing them correctly, safely and effectively.

There is no "one" body type for group fitness.
The great thing about group exercise is that everybody is at different fitness levels. You get to decide the pace you go and when to bump it up or slow it down. Trainers understand that everybody is different in terms of how much they can handle, so they make sure their classes are inclusive and have modification options available for people who need them.

There's accountability.
Having a workout buddy can be motivational and rewarding. With group fitness, you have many, many workout buddies. When you get into a routine, you'll see the same people when you come in for class. After a while, they will start expecting to see you. The day you miss a class, you can bet they will be asking why.

There's community.
Remember those many, many workout buddies we talked about? They're all part of the community that group fitness naturally creates. In smaller classes, participants get to know each other's names, jobs, interests, et cetera. They build relationships and support each other as they all try to reach their specific fitness goals. You sweat together, you fight together, you get knocked down and get back up together. Those kinds of shared experiences create a family environment, where people can rely on each other for support.

You're pushed hard.
When you're in charge of your own workout, it can be easy to cut corners. Sometimes you just don't "feel" like pushing yourself that hard. You don't have to worry about cutting corners in group fitness classes. In every class, there are people right next to you giving it their all and an instructor who will encourage you to push harder.

You do things you didn't know you could do.
So much of exercise is mental. It is so easy for your brain to tell you to give up, lower the intensity and not try as hard as you could. In group fitness, there are instructors that always remind you that you can do more and you can push harder. Once you get past the mental blocks, you'll realize you are capable of doing so much more.

While each person's fitness preferences differ and there is really no "bad" kind of fitness, there are obvious benefits to participating in group fitness. You are pushed harder than you would normally be pushed, and you have a group of motivating people on your side.

Shelby Reno is the owner of CKO Kickboxing, in north downtown Grand Rapids. The gym offers group-fitness kickboxing classes that utilize high-intensity interval training. Contact Shelby at [email protected].

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