In Praise of the Social Impact of Fitness Classes

Everyone was tired. The Zumba class was almost over and we were slacking. All of a sudden, a voice from the back started to shout encouragements. I smiled and turned as a woman danced her way to the front of the room with more energy than I could ever muster. “If I can do it, you can do it!” she yelled at the class.

Determination and energy are contagious. We all immediately started punching harder, jumping higher and digging deeper to get the most out of our workout. This woman embodies everything I love about fitness classes.

Research shows that individuals gravitate toward the fitness behavior of those around them. During a solo workout, it’s tempting to let ourselves off easy. But when we have a coach and a team of people working alongside us, we’re motivated to stick with it.

Fitness classes can be more fun and effective than an individual workout. Additionally, they’re cheaper and less intimidating than hiring a personal trainer. If you belong to a gym, check out the list of classes as they’re often included in the cost of your membership. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Bootcamp is a high-intensity physical training program filled with strength training and treadmill intervals.
  • CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that blends body-weight exercise with aerobics.
  • Pilates is a non-aerobic conditioning routine that builds muscle strength and increases flexibility.
  • Yoga has been shown to lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, after one class.  It also builds flexibility.
  • Zumba is a high-energy dance fitness program that mixes a variety of elements from salsa, hip-hop, Mambo and other types of dance with aerobic exercises.
  • Spinning or cycling refers to a cardio workout on a stationary bike. Throughout the workout you will be instructed to alternate between sitting and standing, high bike tensions and low.

What’s your favorite way to work out in a group setting?

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Photo credit: Fat Camera

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