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Why group exercises work

Group exercise as fitness social networking

Gulf News

We must have been all of three years old when we started exercising in a group. Surprised? Think about it. All those games and physical education exercises and drills we did at school are nothing but a form of group exercise. Humans are by nature social creatures, which is why most people take to group exercises like duck to water. Exercising in a group has been around for generations. Some people generally find it difficult to exercise or train by themselves as they feel much happier and are more comfortable in a group environment where everyone has like-minded goals. The energy and team effort to push and encourage each other is also a motivational factor, and the idea of everyone starting a group exercise session and then finishing it together brings with it an overwhelming sense of achievement.

Benefits of group exercise

Social interaction, connection and engagement through group exercise acts as a great character building exercise as the benchmarks are usually set by people who are fitter or stronger than you. This forces one to push beyond one’s accepted limits and abilities.

Exercising with like-minded individuals can lead to life changing relationships. Additionally working in a group ensures members provide support to each other and are also accountable to each other. It also lends structure and a sense of play to exercise. The biggest benefit is that of being able to tune out the day-to-day stresses relating to work or otherwise and just unwinding in a healthful manner in the company of friends.

FAQs regarding group exercise

No individual attention.

One of the biggest worries people have with group exercise is that they will not get the required attention of the instructor as it is divided between so many people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instructors in today’s group exercise world are trained to coach classes comprising a large number of people. Training a group is almost like an art form, as one has to cater to the physical abilities of a range of people – those who are beginners and those who have been exercising for a few years.

In all my years as a group exercise instructor, I have never experienced a divide between the instructor and a member from lack of communication or connection. We have always maintained safety and had fun while exercising.

Technique versus numbers?

Will technique get sacrificed in the pursuit of attracting more students? Again, ‘No!’ Group exercises usually start with a 15-minutes or express induction classes that focus purely on technique. This is one way to keep group classes safe and user-friendly.

Additionally, instructors of these group classes are themselves trained by world-class assessors to perfect their own technique. A technique test that meets global standard has to be passed before an instructor can teach group classes. This is why it is important to train individually or as a part of a group with qualified fitness experts.

How big can a class get?

Funnily enough, there is NO number big enough not to have group exercise classes. Qualified trainers have trained up to 7,000 people at a time – the Guinness Book of Records I think stands at 9’000 plus.

But when not chasing Guinness records, most fitness clubs can hold up to 60 to 80 people in a class. The biggest class I have personally taught had 3,000 people and it was a fun and stimulating experience.

Support or rivalry?

It’s a great idea for friends to be exercising together but a healthy rivalry is always going to occur no matter what. For example, two friends who have decided to enter a group training session will have personal fitness standards but will try to do better than each other. However, they will also share a camaraderie that ensures that they support and help each other improve their own performance.

Can I vary my workout in a group? Workout

Yes. Try different group exercises that cater to different tastes and varying fitness goals. Make it a point to try out the group exercise classes for aerobics, kickboxing, cycling, running and even boot camps. This ensures boredom is kept at bay and your body is on its toes, thus resulting in better fitness results.


Fact Box


Measuring what you have lost in terms of weight is an integral part of almost everybody’s fitness program. But for most individuals stepping on to that weighing scale is not a weekly activity but something that is done daily and sometimes multiple times in a single day! If we don’t judge ourselves using the weighing scales we do so by standing in front of the mirror and checking our reflection out from various angles. Stop doing that. There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. There is nothing more detrimental to one’s fitness program than to weigh yourself or judge yourself in front of a mirror on a daily basis. It breeds disappointment and leads to de-motivation. A better way to measure your progress in terms of fitness and toning is to use the measuring tape and measure the inches you have lost or gained over a period of time. Inches are yardsticks that help keep one on track without ensnaring one in the emotional aspects of what weight gained represents. So if you ask me opt for the inch tape over the scale every single time.


Tabata Training

Tabata is one of the best ways to torch fat. With the festive season over and done with, a large percentage of people will be working out that much harder to lose the extra holiday calories and flab. Originally designed for the Japanese Men’s Olympic speed skating team, the thinking behind Tabata is different from the traditional concept that one must workout long and hard to get fitter. Researchers have since discovered that aerobic and anaerobic levels improved dramatically on shorter exercise cycles as compared to less intense exercise sessions that lasted an hour and were all about endurance.

Tabata Training is an exercise form with high intensity intervals that usually ranges between 20 seconds of maximum effort and 10 seconds devoted to the recovery phase. The exercise routine is then repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. A complete Tabata Training that provides you a great cardio workout and results in high calorie burning can be had if your try a combination of burpees, deep airsquats, full body weighted push ups on toes, crocodile crawls and abdominal crunches.

Each exercise has to be done for 20 seconds followed by 10 sec recovery (repeat 8 times). The total workout time will add up to 20 minutes. But remember to start with a warm-up which can include skipping for 2 minutes and running 200 metres and repeating these two exercise a total of three times. And maximize the effect of the workout by pushing yourself to do your very best instead of going easy on yourself.

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Are you still in two minds about the benefits of working out with your buddies? Well, look no further than these famous stars for inspiration. Brokeback Mountain star Jake Gyllenhaal and Magic Mike star Mathew Mcconaughey may not have shared screen space together but they share a passion for getting fit in the outdoors. And what better way to do it than cycling along the rugged LA tracks? Reese Witherspoon has managed to lose her baby weight after her third pregnancy by going on jogs with her husband Jim Toth. Another fan of working out with a spouse is Naomi Watts who goes for a run with hubby and fellow actor Liev Schreiber. Of course celeb-dom has a few instances of exercise best buddies who ended up as foes. Remember Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow? However we really don’t think it was the competition on the treadmill or the weight rack that resulted in the end of this friendship.