What does that make you think of? Spin class at the gym? An hour of stepping on and off something? A camo-clad screamy drill sergeant bootcamp? Tiny weight-clutching Bosu dance-robics?
Group exercise may have a checkered past, but don’t we all? Group exercise doesn’t have to be awful – in fact, group exercise is pretty much awesome. Here’s why:
1) Derby is group exercise
Like it or not, sports are exercise. Therefore, sports that you play in a group are group exercise. Derby is awesome, therefore group exercise is awesome – see the logic? I totally took Logic 101 in school.
Knowing that there is a group and a trainer waiting for you at a certain place and a certain time can be a huge motivator for some folks. This doesn’t have to be a “group class”, it can be small group personal training, it can be a workout buddy, heck it can even be derby practice. When I know someone is expecting me, I’m way more likely to be there than if left to my own devices.
3) Social Dynamics
Doing almost anything with others is more fun than doing it alone. Group exercise helps you makes new friends and broaden your social horizons. Want to get to know the new Fresh Meat? Make them your partner in a workout – you’ll get to know each other super fast, and you’ll both be better for it.
4) Team Mentality
You derby girls know, a team is a powerful thing. Shared biological events (eating, sleeping, working hard) bond you even closer. What better way to tighten your team unity than sweating through a tough off-skates session together. You can support each other, encourage each other, complain to each other. Once the training session or class is done, you can all discuss how much more awesome you are for having conquered it.
I don’t need to say too much about this one. If you skate derby, you’re probably already a little bit competitive. Naturally, being in a group will make you want to show off, push yourself, and push those around you. Big wins all around.
6) Definite Start and Stop Times
Bootcamps, classes, and the like have a clear schedule. There’s no “when I get around to it” about a group training session. You have a clearly defined time that you can set aside week after week, which helps to form healthy habits.
A good run-of-the-mill bootcamp will have a dynamic warm-up, a resistance training component, an energy system development component (cardio), and a cool down. This saves you the time and energy of trying to design a balanced program for yourself. A good coach will have a decent program design that will challenge fitness level of each participant. It may not be a fully periodized, personalized training plan, but it’s usually a good plan based in exercise science designed by someone who knows what they’re talking about. Efficient for your body, since you can get a decent whole-body workout from one bootcamp, and efficient for your schedule since you don’t have to do any of the research.
8) Lower Cost
When the number of participants goes up, the price goes down. But, if the instructor is worth their salt – the quality stays exactly the same. Personal training can be out of reach for some budgets. Group fitness classes are usually offered free at gyms, and can be very reasonably priced from personal training studios. Also, bootcamps aren’t the only lower-cost option. More and more studios are offering small group training. With small groups, you still get a personalized training plan, and hands-on coaching, but there are usually 3-5 of you working with a trainer at once, rather than one-on-one. For all of the benefits to small group training – see above. Small group training is the way of the future (or, really, the way of the right-now). Maximum results, maximum encouragement (since you have friends as well as a trainer pushing you), and maximum bang for your fitness buck.
9) Personal Touch
Mark my words, if you’re in a bootcamp or class with a trainer, they want to keep you happy. They want to keep you as their client. They want you to get results. Good trainers will go out of their way to modify exercises for you, to take your injuries, limitations and challenges into account, and to tailor-make a workout that will keep you engaged and enthusiastic. Good trainers will give you an assessment before they start with you (even in a group setting). Good trainers will watch your form and give you corrections. Basically, good coaches will coach – regardless of whether there are two people in the room or twenty.
You can wear every single one of these outfits to group fitness events and it is totally acceptable. To a one-on-one meeting with your new trainer, maybe not so much.
(disclaimer: it’s probably only acceptable to wear these outfits if your trainer and training group are really, really, cool)
There you have it, ten reasons why group fitness is boss. So what are you waiting for? There are thousands of classes, bootcamps, and small group training sessions out there. Find one that suits you best (ideally one that lets you wear neon lycra and headbands), go forth and be awesome!