We all know the importance of exercise to our health and how much we should be exercising in a week compared to how much we actually are. However, I once heard that taking a group fitness class was within Americans’ top ten fears. As someone who has completed over 300 hours of fitness certifications, I personally couldn’t think of anything more fun to do. I understand the pressures and fears, but I also believe the benefits of group fitness can outweigh the fears.
A big fear I’ve heard about from people who are wary of attending one of my group fitness classes at the studio where I teach, or just any exercise class in general, is that they’re afraid of looking dumb or doing something wrong. Granted, most of us can probably recollect some embarrassing experiences from a previous group fitness session, sport, gym class, etc. Even still, I believe if approached in the right way, it can be a learning experience.
It’s about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It’s about addressing the doubts and fears, then rising above them. It’s about pushing out of your comfort zone and with that push, your comfort zone expands right alongside it. This then translates into life off the yoga mat, off the spin bike, out of the weight room, etc. Bearing down as you climb a steep hill with more resistance on a spin bike than you normally do may empower you to address a problem in your work or personal life that you didn’t have the confidence to confront before. It’s about approaching tasks in a normal day-to-day life that you may have once been too uncomfortable to do, and doing them confidently, comfortably, and competently. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a crucial life skill that group fitness readily teaches in each and every class.
It’s the good kind of peer pressure.
This isn’t the kind of peer pressure your parents warned you about with your friends all jumping off bridges, smoking, and drinking. It’s the kind of peer pressure faced when class gets hard - the dripping sweat, the heat of exhaustion, the trembling of muscles. It’s at that moment when the good kind of peer pressure kicks in - the combined encouragement from the instructor to amp it up even more and the support you get from the others in the class allows you to overcome any doubt you had about your strength. This prepares you to achieve your new best success. Maybe that’s holding a plank a few seconds longer than you did last week. Maybe it’s feeling more confident in a difficult yoga pose. Maybe it’s simply showing up for class.
It’s stronger than your muscles.
A huge positive outcome of any form of exercise is the obvious improvement in physical health. However, group exercise can also create connection and community. It helps to create bonds and friendships that may not have existed without the fitness studio that connected you to other fantastic people. A friendly face to run into around town. A buddy that’s right there with you in the steepest hill climb, the heaviest lift, and the longest stretch - in the workout, and in the real world.
So what are you waiting for?
Find your group fitness program that makes you feel strong, balanced, and whole. Gain strength in your body, mind, and connection with yourself and those around you. Allow yourself the opportunity to be the best you possible.