By Aren Besson
Group fitness classes can be a magic bullet for those who struggle with sticking to an exercise plan.
It’s a common story; a person becomes super motivated to get in shape and decides to join a gym. One month later, after they have begun to see some results, they reward themselves with a cheat day. That cheat day turns into a cheat week, which then turns into a cheat month. Two months later, they are in the same place that they started, all because of a lapse in accountability, no support, and a lack of a long-term plan.
It is painfully easy to fall off the bandwagon when you don’t have a team to hold you to your goals. Phone apps that track food intake and tell you when to exercise can help, but one of the best ways to help with accountability is to find a solid support structure and team. This is one of the many places where group fitness can benefit you.
Group fitness classes encompass a wide range of organized exercises, from kickboxing to yoga, and people tend to find the most success with an activity that they enjoy.
The format of these classes provides a supportive team that helps exercisers maintain accountability. A 1992 study from the National Institute of Health showed that exercisers are much more likely to stick with their exercise plan when they were surrounded by a dependable support structure. Group fitness participants are able to interact with other exercisers on the team that are just as interested in meeting their fitness goals, and that enthusiasm helps fight off lapses in motivation.
Group fitness classes are also an effective way to reach health goals because they take the stress out of figuring out what to do in the gym. Plenty of people who want to get in shape don’t because they are intimidated at the idea of going into a gym and lifting weights or confused about what they should be doing.
The fitness professional that leads the team can act as a readily accessible resource for those who may be new to exercise, and their energy can motivate participants to stay healthy outside of the class. Access to fitness instruction helps exercisers stick with a program, even when participants have never had a clear exercise strategy, according to a report from the American Council on Exercise.
Accountability is only one of several factors that affect adherence to an exercise program, but for those who have had repeated difficulty in starting a program, finding a group fitness team may be the answer.
Spend some time looking for classes in your area with a community that you will enjoy. A good class is one that keeps you engaged and motivated throughout the class, but more importantly encourages you to come back for more.