Gym classes & group fitness

It is no overstatement to say that we have seen a explosion in the popularity of gym classes and the idea of training as part of a group in our gyms in recent years. What started with the increased attractiveness of spin classes has now gone on to be mirrored in Zumba, Boxercise and a whole host of other group-based fitness activities.

So the question is obvious. Can you achieve results training in a group that are as positive as the results that can be achieved when training alone? Obviously there are a huge number of factors that have a part to play in answering that question, so let me be clear on what I mean. We are talking about if two people were training for the same amount of time per week and eating identically, but one of them is training alone and the other is using gym classes. I accept that those circumstances still involve quite a lot of assumption but it will allow us to directly compare the two scenarios.

Firstly we need to look at the pros of participating in group fitness. One of the things that I have mentioned previously when talking about training with other people is the part that accountability has to play in motivating you. It is one thing to miss your own gym session but when you let down a friend, the guilt that you feel is magnified. So that means it is logical to assume that if the members of your fitness group are relying on you to turn up that you are more likely to be there.

Then there is the fact that you are probably going to be doing something different. If you are attending a different classes each week then the chances are you aren’t going to be getting bored and your workouts have the variety that you need.  Training alone in the gym can leave you guilty of falling into too much of a routine that bores you eventually. Saying that, if you are doing the same class a number of times a week then you might find yourself becoming bored with that too, even if you are doing it with friends. 

The growing popularity of gym classes means that we are seeing far more choices available in terms of what you can participate in. A lot of these classes are now offered as part of your gym package too. So you aren’t going to have to fork out extra money if you want to try and participate in more group fitness. 

But as with most things, there are cons to be considered as well. When it comes to gym classes you have to accept that you are going to be sacrificing a lot of the control that you have on your workouts. A lot of people are motivated by the fact that they have created their own regimes from scratch and that they are free to adjust these as time goes on. Group classes will have been designed long before you attend. There might be the possibility for you to input your own opinion but you are never going to have that same level of control.`

You might find yourself sacrificing weight training too. Whilst fitness classes are growing in popularity, most of them don’t involve the use of heavy weights. This is because one instructor would find it difficult to monitor the form of 30+ people and most gyms won’t be able to afford the equipment. So if you can’t get enough of the weights, gym classes might not be the right thing for you. 

In reality it is unlikely that someone would train using solely group fitness. So it is best to think of them as a way to supplement your workouts or simply add a bit of variety to what you are doing. And like I say, if they are included in your gym package then it seems stupid to not try a few of them out. You might just find one that works for you and that you really enjoy. 

Ollie Lawrence
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