Choosing Group Exercise: From Acrobatics to Zumba

Zumba is one of the most popular group exercise classes around right now

Most people think of group exercise as something you do in a gym.  Those old-fashioned step classes; or humans, sweaty and gross, huffing away on Spin bikes.  But anywhere that people come together to exercise is a group fitness class.  From a bootcamp in a local park to yoga, tai chi, dance, even a bowling league.

Some people choose group exercise as their only way to stay fit.  I say more power to them, but a lot of us stride alone on local streets or puff away utterly bored on the treadmill or elliptical.  Adding a group exercise class into your usual weekly routine is a good way to mix things up and has other benefits as well.

Encouragement. A group ex class is led by a fitness professional who can gauge your fitness level and push you to go a little further than you might do on your own.

Camaraderie. What better way to find a group of like-minded souls?  I’ve seen whole Zumba classes bond and a great community form.  People become friends outside of group ex. classes and building community is one of the best ways to stay healthy.

Variety. Going to a group ex. class inherently builds variety into your fitness program.  Even if you go to the same class over and over again you’re not going to do the same exercises ad nauseam.  The instructors know to keep it fresh by changing choreography and emphasizing different muscle groups.

As I said earlier you can find group ex. classes anywhere, not just at a gym.  Here are a few to consider …

  • Group golf-conditioning classes
  • Tennis (or squash) lessons (you have to hit it to somebody, right?)
  • Stroller Mom classes in a nearby park
  • Dance classes
  • Soccer, softball and basketball leagues
  • Family hikes
  • Running clubs
  • Yoga

You get the idea.  Open up your mind a little and you’ll see oodles of possibilities.

I’m not saying drop your current fitness routine entirely and only work out in a pack.  If you prefer solo workouts then go for it, but consider adding one or two sessions a week where you’re in a group.  You’ll be glad you did.

What do you do for group exercise now?  Would you recommend it to others?  Did you have to force yourself from being a solo exerciser into a group situation?  Looking forward to starting a conversation.

Cheers,

Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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2 Responses to Choosing Group Exercise: From Acrobatics to Zumba

  1. Jay July 4, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    As a male with 2 left feet, it appears most group exercises are very female oriented as they tend to be “dance style” routines, some with moves that are quite awkwardly feminine (no, I’m not used to giving myself big hugs at the end of a workout) to the average guy. I think I’ve heard “Its Raining Men” & Flashdance theme too many times. Please if you offer a co-ed class, construct it as co-ed. The exceptions to this might be spinning and weight routines that already seem to be more co-ed in nature ie. bodypump. Now I have an appreciation of getting the brain to learn and work to process different body movements, in addition to the workout itself. I believe in group exercising, but I am disappointed in the lack of effort to appeal to a larger audience.

  2. Lisa Johnson July 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Hi Jay, I hope you think I was being open-minded about all genders in group ex class. I mentioned bootcamp and golf conditioning specifically. I know what you mean about women taking over Group Ex classes though. The stats are very skewed toward women in those types of classes in gyms. But once you get out of the gym environment you’ll find a few more options for gender neutral or male oriented classes. Good luck in your fitness journey ~ Lisa

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