Could Group Fitness be for You?

By Claudean Boatman

by Danielle Dolin

Fitness may be a personal goal, but for some, the consistency and intentionality of exercise are heightened in a group setting. These individuals find value in group fitness, defined by Grace Surma, a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer, as “exercise done in a group setting led by a coach/trainer where individuals exercise independently to improve their physical fitness, quality of life, and enhance lasting health behaviors.”

According to Surma, group classes cater to those “who enjoy working out or being physically active in a group setting.” She acknowledges that group fitness isn’t for everyone, but for those who thrive on accountability, whether from a friend or a coach, it can be an ideal setting. Surma emphasizes the inclusivity of group classes, stating they are suitable for various age levels.

For newcomers, the unknown can be a barrier to trying a class. Surma applauds those who step into group fitness classes without familiarity, saying, “… it is okay to feel lost, confused, or unsure if you are doing something right during your first class. Trust the instructor and trust the people around you to help you out.”

Group fitness classes offer a variety of activities, including circuit weight exercises, high-intensity training, buddy workouts, cycling, Zumba, and more, according to Leslie Gordillo, BS, CPT, CNC, who leads such classes. Gordillo encourages modification for beginners and emphasizes the importance of maintaining consistency with the instructor’s exercises to avoid confusion in the class.

Surma echoes this sentiment, stating, “There are always options for every exercise to accommodate everyone’s individual needs. Going to a group fitness class is to help you grow as an individual and in your health and fitness journey.”

For those new to group fitness, choosing classes aligned with their fitness goals is essential. Gordillo advises against deviating from the instructor’s exercises, emphasizing that modifications are acceptable but consistency is key to prevent conflict or confusion in the class.

Before committing to a group fitness program, individuals should investigate both classes and facilities. Surma suggests ensuring the instructor holds credentials from NASM, the American College of Sports Medicine, or another reputable institute. Additionally, first aid and CPR certification are desirable for a safe exercise environment. Sumra recommends investigating the instructor’s fitness experience and ensuring their fitness interests align with yours.

During a fitness class, instructors monitor participants to ensure proper form and prevent injuries. However, those requiring more personalized attention might find group fitness less suitable. According to Gordillo, “Trying to constantly show form to someone can take away from the other [participants] if there is only one instructor.”

Claudean Boatman lives in Northern Colorado where she enjoys walking her dogs, doing step workouts, and exercising under the direction of her Cancer Exercise Specialist.

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