With the plethora of group fitness options out there these days, you may be wondering if you would benefit from taking an Orangetheory or F45 class or trying spin, barre, yoga, CrossFit or TRX in a group setting. We asked a couple of fitness pros for their advice to help you figure out if group fitness is right for you.
Sara Hodson, founder and CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic says the key to sticking with any exercise routine is first making a commitment to yourself. Once you have figured out how much time, money and focus you’re going to commit to creating a healthy lifestyle, you can figure out the details – are you going to work out at home, are you going to go to the gym, are you going to take a yoga class?
“If the ‘how’ is through group fitness, you’re already putting yourself in a position for success,” Hodson says, explaining that group fitness – whether that’s a class or a walking group you organize with your friends – has been shown to help people reach their goals more successfully than doing it on their own. The reason? Community.
“That’s the beauty of group fitness,” Hodson says. The community aspect of working out with other people is one of the most powerful things about group fitness, and it’s what a lot of people, in her experience, say has been key to their success.
The support of other people in the group, along with the personal relationships that often develop, help keep people motivated and coming back for more. Hodson recalls members who have met their best friends and even spouses at her exercise clinic. “Deep friendships are able to be cultivated,” when you’re working out together, focusing on achieving your goals, she says.
There’s also the added benefit of accountability that comes with working out with other people, instead of by yourself, Hodson says. Planning to meet a friend at the gym or knowing an instructor is waiting for you is more likely to motivate you to get out of bed and go work out than if you’re only counting on yourself. “We are just more likely to show up,” she says.
Personal trainer and group fitness instructor Holly Soto, who owns Renewal Fitness Coaching in Los Angeles, says group fitness is right for you if you’re “someone who likes a little healthy competition, loves to be social, or needs a little extra push and accountability for your workouts.”
In her work as a group fitness instructor, she says many people come primarily for the friendships they form in class. “It is their social hour, and because of that it makes exercise more fun.”
A lot of people are also motivated by competition, she explains, which is easily found in a something like a spin class or an Orangetheory workout.
“Being able to compare to others’ scores and want to come out on top will help push yourself further than if you work out on your own,” she says.
“Additionally, having a set time and place for a class, especially if you’re required to pay for it and sign up ahead of time, is a perfect way to stay accountable to your goals. If you pay and make an appointment, you’re far more likely to stick with it when you’re not in the mood than if you are working out alone.”
If you’re still unsure whether group fitness is right for you, Soto offers these key indicators that it’s a good fit – and some signs that it’s not. Take a look and ask yourself which ones apply to you.
Group fitness is a good fit for you if:
- You enjoy being around other people.
- You’re an introvert but want a way to connect with others and make new friends.
- You like competition (if you’re doing something like spin, CrossFit or Orangetheory).
- You’re not particularly self-motivated when it comes to exercise.
- You like trying new things.
- You want to learn some new exercises or workout techniques.
Soto adds that “yoga is a great option for someone who’s not particularly social or competitive, but still wants the other benefits [of group fitness].”
Group fitness may not be right for you if:
- You like to do things at your own pace.
- You’re self-motivated with exercise and can push yourself.
- You have a specific workout regimen you need for your goals, such as bodybuilding, a fitness competition or you’re a competitive athlete.
- You’re more concerned with safety and proper form during every exercise (sometimes classes move too fast and have too many people for an instructor to make sure every person is performing properly, she says).
- You’re not very social.
- Your workout time is when you like to think, de-stress or be alone.
- You do not enjoy competition.
Ultimately, sometimes you just have to try something to know whether it’s right for you. If there’s a class you’ve had your eye on for a while, or if you’ve been thinking of getting a group of friends together to work out, why not give it a try? If you have no medical restrictions on exercising, give it a shot – just make sure you listen to your body throughout the workout, especially if it’s a fitness class that might be challenging. Take breaks to catch your breath and drink water as needed and modify your movements if you need to as well – instructors often demonstrate multiple ways to do a particular movement so there are options for varied levels of fitness and mobility. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!