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As life ferries us along and we settle into our routines, many of us realize that exercise has lost its place in our lives somewhere along the way. Whether you lost interest in fitness after graduating from school, getting a job or starting a family, it is a common situation.
Getting back into a workout routine may appear difficult. Perhaps the idea of working out seems painfully tedious — or tediously painful — and it could seem stressful to fit it into an already busy schedule.
For those struggling to get motivated to start a fitness regimen, group exercise can be one time-efficient and fun solution.
Getting healthy is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and group exercise is a particularly fun way to do it. Group exercise is any organized activity in which people work out as a group, and it has become very popular— both as a means to get in shape and as a way to meet others.
It happens all over the place, from gyms to parks, and there is a diverse array of options to suit your objectives. You can choose between different activities based on how sociable you wish to be, what level of intensity you are hoping for and what sort of location you desire to be in. If you want to get into this type of fitness, but find yourself wondering, “What’s the best group exercise for me?”, read on for our guide to the best group exercises.
The Benefits of Group Workouts
Exercising releases endorphins, which are essentially the human body’s built-in, non-addictive, safe drug. They create a sense of euphoria that, in turn, reduces stress and symptoms of depression, while at the same time helping you sleep and improving self-esteem.
Exercise lowers your blood pressure and makes your heart stronger, while simultaneously burning fat and improving your physical appearance. And while you do use up calories exercising, it still has the miraculous effect of boosting your energy levels in day-to-day life.
Group exercise combines all these benefits with the fun of being part of a group. As we will discuss, there are valuable advantages to exercising as part of a group versus going it alone. They include the motivation of being bolstered by those around you, the effortless social aspect of group dynamics and the ability to choose different exercises based on your goals.
Group fitness also lets us relive a part of childhood that often gets lost when we become adults: the joy of playing with others. As adults, we still value friendship and community, but often do not see many avenues to combine them with fitness. Group exercise is an excellent answer to this problem.
Furthermore, classes are designed to give you an efficient workout in a fun environment. They also dictate a schedule that will help you keep exercise in your routine, as well as some measure of accountability to remain committed to the goal. Surrounded by friends and upbeat music, you may find the time flies by with you hardly noticing.
Group Exercise Safety
Another benefit of group exercise is that it adds another degree of safety to your workout. When we work out by ourselves, it can be difficult to maintain proper form — it is also common to skip proper warm-ups like stretching.
Group exercise classes will include both pre- and post-workout movement and stretching to warm you up and cool you down. Proper warm-ups and cool-downs mean less chance of injury and a happier body during your workday.
Your group class instructor, while serving as a team leader, can also provide valuable, personalized advice on topics like diet and independent exercise. Discuss your goals with your instructor and enjoy the benefits as they extend to other parts of your life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we get into which group workout options might fit your needs, let’s clear up some basic questions and common misunderstandings. Many people are put off by the idea of group exercise, based on misperceptions of certain terms and practices associated with it.
1. How Big Are Fitness Groups?
You have a lot of options for gyms and fitness classes, and they vary widely. A small group class might have five or fewer people, while a large group may have 40 or more. It all depends on the activity and the style of the instructor. While a soothing yoga class might comfortably accommodate just a few people, a high-energy cycling class will be better suited to a larger group.
2. Light, Moderate or High-Intensity Exercise: How Do I Choose?
Light-intensity: A group exercise is just what it sounds like: It should not cause you to sweat, run out of breath or have an elevated heart rate. Examples include yoga and some forms of dance.
Moderate-intensity: Workouts will probably cause you to break a sweat after about 10 minutes, and you can expect to breathe a bit harder. However, it is still possible to carry on a conversation. Some moderate-intensity exercises include gentle cycling and walking or light jogging.
High-intensity: Will get you sweating, breathing hard and burning a higher number of calories. Expect conversation to occur only in brief spurts. Examples include aerobics, hardcore cycling and sports like basketball and volleyball.
3. What Is the Difference Between Intensity and Impact?
Intensity refers to the difficulty level of an activity — it goes hand in hand with exertion. Impact, on the other hand, describes the amount of force your body will take on. For example, cycling is a high-intensity, low-impact sport, since you are getting a solid workout without putting a lot of stress on your joints. Basketball, on the other hand, is a high-intensity, high-impact sport that involves a lot of hard contact with the ground.
4. What Is Cross-Training?
Cross-training is so named because it is effectively a “cross” between different forms of exercise.
Specifically, it blends aerobics, strength training and flexibility exercises, making it a good way to have a well-rounded workout.
5. Does Strength Training With Weights Mean I’ll Be Doing Bodybuilding?
No, not unless bodybuilding is your goal. The primary goal of adding weights to your routine is to build real, functional strength and tone — not bulk. You can accomplish this by using lighter weight and doing more repetitions.
Bodybuilding is an exercise specifically meant to bulk up muscle. You can add bulk to muscles by using heavy weights and fewer repetitions.
6. What Exactly Does the Phrase “Mind/Body” Mean?
Your mind and body are closely connected, and exercise affects both. While working out is primarily aimed at improving your body, the benefits also extend to your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins and is proven to combat depression and boost your mood.
7. What Are the Different Types of Yoga?
There are many different types of yoga, which can make it tricky when trying to choose how to start the practice. Here are a few categories:
Hatha is generally accepted to be the gentlest form of yoga, with a lot of focus on slow, relaxing poses and breathing exercises.
Vinyasa typically encompasses a more vigorous program of yoga, with an emphasis on flow — that is, transitioning smoothly from one posture to the next. Expect a series of sun salutations and lots of focus on keeping your breathing synchronized with your movements.
Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding style that also emphasizes flow. This form will require some fitness and will give you a solid workout, while also covering a lot of different poses in one class.
Bikram yoga is also called “hot” yoga. This trendy workout takes place in an overheated room, with the ambient air temperature at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity at 40 percent. Bikram yoga involves a series of 26 poses that are the same no matter where you attend a class. This type of class is a fun challenge, as the heat and humidity present an obstacle to overcome.
8. Is Pilates a Form of Yoga?
Pilate is not a form of yoga. While it’s easy to conflate the two, since they both feature a series of poses, Pilates is a workout whose primary objective is muscle toning and core strength.
While yoga is equal parts mental and physical health, Pilates is more of an intense strength-building exercise.
9. How Can I Be Sure of the Quality of an Instructor?
Most group exercise classes are led by highly capable professionals who are experienced — and often even certified — in their fields. Just to be sure, though, here are some clues to look out for to ensure you’ve got a good instructor:
For one, a great instructor should always be warm and welcoming. The goal in a class should be to establish an inspired mood and a sense of camaraderie among the members.
Confidence and knowledge of the material are two more qualities you should look for in an instructor. There is a lot to know about group exercises, and instructors who emanate wisdom tend to lead better classes.
Visual and verbal cueing is a skill that comes with lots of experience. If an instructor calls out directions erratically or in a way that doesn’t translate well to attendees, the results can be frustrating. Look for someone who is clear and succinct.
Lastly, a good instructor should have a very apparent sense of rhythm — not just in terms of keeping the beat of the music, but also in the ability to read and control the pacing of the class and maintain good momentum. A session with a good instructor should feel like dancing to a song or watching a movie, as there should be a general flow and style to the course.
Goals That Can Be Accomplished With Group Exercise
If you are considering group exercising options, it is helpful to delineate exactly what your goals are. Are you looking to meet people and have fun, or do you want to cut flab and get toned? Here are some common goals people have in mind when signing up for group classes, as well as some recommended classes for each goal.
Weight-loss goals are one of the most common reasons to get into group exercise. If your plan is to lose weight, you’ll want to focus on classes that offer some form of cardio or endurance. There is also interval training, in which participants exert themselves at maximum effort for short bursts of time, building endurance more quickly and allowing for intense fat burning.
While some of the activities on this list are higher-intensity than others, this goal will generally entail some fairly vigorous workouts, such as:
- Indoor cycling or Spinning classes
- HIIT, or high-intensity interval training
- Dance fitness
- Boot-camp-style workouts
Gain Strength and Tone Up
For those who would like to gain strength and get ripped, these exercises are for you. You can build strength and lean muscle mass with barbells, dumbbells and other types of weights, as well as resistance bands or tubes and bodyweight exercises. The goal here is to achieve a lean, sculpted tone.
- Strength training
- Weight training
- Circuit training
- Total body workouts
- Boot-camp-style workouts
There is always one easy answer to the question of why you should get in shape: life is simply more fun when you are. Being able to move around and accomplish physical activities without feeling utterly fatigued makes being alive a much more pleasant experience.
You can build your stamina, endurance and flexibility through a combination of cardio and other athletic routines. There are many fun ways to go about it, including walking, running, stretching and working on your posture. Here are some recommended group classes:
- Indoor cycling
- Cardio workouts
- Core training
Stretching and toning can help your body and mind equally, especially if you choose to include some form of yoga in your fitness regimen. Gaining flexibility and improving your posture will also keep you in touch with your breathing patterns, which serves to relieve stress.
As you build flexibility, you’ll get many muscle-toning benefits, as well. You will lengthen and tone your muscles as you work on holding poses and building your core strength. An example is yoga.
Meet Friends and Be Social
Lest you should write this goal off as more frivolous than the others, know there is some solid science at play here. Meeting people and developing new social relationships is positively correlated with good health, which could have long-term benefits as you get older.
Group classes are great ways to meet people. Because everyone in the class shares similar fitness goals and challenges, it’s easy to form bonds and have conversation-starters. Cycling is a great example of an ultimate group classes for social butterflies, in that it allows for plentiful conversation.
Choose a Workout Based on Your Interests
Staying in a workout routine can be challenging due to our schedules and the random surprises that can throw us off balance. But staying motivated and engaged is much easier when you enjoy your workout — think about what activities you love doing, and pick a group exercise that fits your interests.
To help narrow down the options, consider the following:
Do You Like to Dance and Be Social?
If so, dance classes are the perfect outlet — and they’re also great for getting in shape. Styles like hip-hop will get your heart rate up and your feet moving. There is an inherent fun to dancing in a group, as well as a feeling of connectedness that occurs when you find yourself moving in synchrony with others. Plus, imagine breaking out new moves at the next dance party you happen to attend.
Try modern dance for another fun and inventive form of movement. The art form dates back to the early 20th century and has seen a continual evolution of different styles and techniques. Ballet is another option with a rich history and enough cool moves to make a lifelong pursuit out of it.
Do You Want to Challenge Yourself?
Group exercise is the perfect stage for challenging yourself. Because everyone is sharing the struggle together, there is more motivation to do your part in getting to the end of the exercise routine. The feeling of accomplishment is rewarding when you’ve done it as a team.
Group classes like high-intensity interval training and strength training are excellent options for those looking to break through any fitness plateaus and reach new levels of endurance. These exercises require a lot of physical exertion, while also setting achievable goals for newcomers.
Are You Seeking Some “You” Time, or Want Flexibility and Core Work?
Yoga and direct core workouts are excellent for those looking to do group exercises while still preserving some alone time. Because these workouts are largely individual despite being part of a group, they lend themselves to those in need of contemplative quiet.
Are You Looking to Achieve Some Visible Change in Your Body, Such as Muscle Tone?
An instructor can help you formulate a plan for achieving whatever results you desire. A good instructor will generally not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all methodology when it comes to fitness regimens — be sure to ask what group exercise can help you accomplish your specific goals.
However, you’ll likely want to take up weight training or pursue a strength-based form of working out. For a well-rounded workout, alternate cardio and strength exercises to achieve your leanest, fittest physique.
Keeping up With Your Group Exercise
The best way to keep up with group exercise is to connect with others in the class. Try creating a Facebook group or a group text with any new friends you make at the gym or studio. Being part of a fitness group will motivate you not only by its social appeal, but also by keeping you accountable for any absences.
Try Group Classes at Spooky Nook Sports
As the largest indoor sports facility in North America, we offer a huge array of group classes designed to pique your interest and help you achieve your goals. Our options include incredible sports facilities and options for group exercises.
Group exercises offered at Spooky Nook include the following, though you can find more options on our website.
This fusion of yoga, tai chi and Pilates is an athletic workout that leaves you feeling balanced and collected. You’ll find yoga poses, meditation and uplifting music accompanying you in this hour of strength-building.
Dive into the world of strength training with this barbell-centered workout designed to hit all the major muscle groups. You’ll be doing squats, presses, curls and lifts to the beat of fantastic music. And don’t worry — you get to choose the amount of weight on your barbells.
Taking inspiration from karate, taekwondo, tai chi, boxing and Muay Thai, this intense workout will have you kicking and hitting your way to fitness. Expect to sweat and exert yourself fully.
This half-hour workout takes a scientific approach to helping you tone your stomach and butt. With the help of resistance bands, weighted plates and your own bodyweight, you will give your abdomen and posterior a thorough workout in no time at all.
If your goal is to improve strength and endurance, this is the class for you. Using interval training that combines aerobics with strength-building exercises, this class is designed to build stamina along with a soundtrack of toe-tapping music.
Our class falls into the category of vinyasa yoga, where we seek to synchronize breathing with movement. Expect advantages to both mind and body, with stress reduction and confidence accompanied by tighter muscles.
We offer four different cycling classes for different levels of fitness. Our Re-Cycle program is designed for beginners or for those recovering from muscle strain. Our Go! program is a quick and efficient Spinning class that is designed to get your heart pumping. C4 is a metabolic booster combining cycling with off-bike weight training, while RPM is a 45-minute guided trip of hill climbs, flats and fast sprints.
Additionally, we offer the following sports:
- Bubble ball
- Field hockey
- Flag football
- Martial arts
- Ultimate Frisbee
Come to Spooky Nook Sports and find out which group sport is right for you. Call us at 717-945-7087 or visit us on the web at spookynooksports.com.
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