Friday, April 8, 2011

Group Fitness Part 1

Hello Win, Lose or Bloggers! Today the lovely ladies at Win, Lose, or Blog have agreed to let me share some of my knowledge about group fitness with you through 2 posts. I'm very excited to be here because I've followed WLOB since the beginning! Today I'll be talking about the benefits of group fitness, some of the barriers, and what to consider when choosing a class, and the next post will help you get started!

About me:


I've been a group fitness instructor for over 2 years now. I have my Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation Association Group Fitness certification, BTS Group Power & Group Step certifications, as well as recently obtaining my Zumba fitness certification. Before getting involved with fitness I spent 5 years cheerleading competitively in high school and university, and danced for years before that! I teach classes in the evenings, in addition to having a full time day job as an electrical engineer.

I LOVE teaching for a bunch of reasons. The top one is my participants, they're some of the sweetest people I've met. I also love being able to help people achieve their fitness goals. As an added bonus, I get a workout too – it's like a gym buddy for me because I can't just decide that I don't feel like going on a given day - people are counting on me!

Reasons to try a group fitness class:

1. Motivation – it's like being on a team without the pressure of tryouts, or having to perform

2. Making friends – I once read a study that said most people who end up sticking with group fitness say health reasons are why they began the classes, but later on say that it's the social aspects that make them stay.

3. of course the physical/health benefits:

- Decreased body fat/increase lean mass

- Improved strength, cardio vascular endurance, flexability

- Increased in energy

4. Personalized instruction without the cost of a personal trainer

Barriers to joining group fitness:

    1. Feeling intimidated

    - This one is probably the hardest to get over. My best advice? Bring a friend! If you don't know of someone who'd be interested, try getting to class on the early side and introduce yourself to the person next to you. Group fitness participants are usually very friendly! We were all new at one time.

      2. Feeling like you aren't co-ordinated

      - RELAX! No one expects you to be perfect, you wouldn't expect it of your best friend learning a new skill, so why should you put that pressure on yourself? I make sure to tell my classes that my goal for them is to keep moving, especially if it's a class that requires more co-ordination (like Zumba!) I honestly mean this. Any new activity takes time to learn, and exercise isn't an exception

        3. Feeling like everyone's going to be looking at you

        - Think about what you'll be doing in class. You're going to be concentrating pretty hard on what you're doing, right? So is everyone else!

        - Put yourself in the front row. It sounds crazy, I know. BUT if you're in the front & can't see anyone else, you tend to forget that they're there! AND if you're in the front, you have a clear view of the instructor, so chances are you're going to be more successful because you can clearly see what's going on.

        Now that you're thinking about giving it a try, where do you start?

        First, I recommend checking with your doctor and making sure that starting a new fitness routine is safe for you. Because I know you're not all going to do that-even though I really would like you to, AT LEAST fill out a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) form. This form helps determine if you have any serious risk factors and helps ensure that you're healthy and ready to being new activity.

        Finding a class

        There are so many different classes out there it's hard to know what to choose.

        Most classes can be broken down into 3 main categories:


        Strength classes work your muscles and in group fitness are usually about muscle endurance. These classes usually use some type of resistance which might be weights, bands, balls, tubing, or just body weight.

        Strength classes are a great place to start because they require the least amount of co-ordination and exercises are easily adapted to different levels by adjusting the resistance (weight). These classes might be disguised under the names "sculpt, pump, or power"

        (one example of a strength training class - it's really not that scary, trust me!)

        Cardio Vascular

        These classes get your heart rate up. Prepare to breathe a little heavier and sweat! There are so many types of cardio classes including step aerobics, hi/low aerobics, dance type classes like Zumba fitness, spin (biking) classes, kick boxing, and the list goes on!

        Often these classes will come in levels - so if you're just starting off (even if you run 5 miles a day) I'd suggest starting with a beginner class. (step classes are just one kind of cardio class!)


        These classes include formats like yoga and pilates. They usually focus on strength, balance and flexibility.

        Mind/body classes are great to unwind. Don't be discouraged by them using the excuse “I'm not flexible” that's probably all the more reason you should go! These classes often have a lot of strength elements to them too - they're more challenging than a lot of people give them credit for!

        Finding a facility

        There are a few key considerations when looking for where you want to take classes.

        Convenience – can you get there easily from work/home? If it's difficult to get to, you're less likely to go.

        Cost – lots of places offer a free trial, often one week, some places (like my YWCA) offer two!

        Fit – is the facility the right fit for you? Do the people share your type of lifestyle? Are the patrons business people or family centred? Does it feel comfortable?

        You might want to look beyond the well known gyms and research some other options. Check out your local YMCA/YWCA they're great places for a community atmosphere (I teach at my local YWCA and love it)

        Community associations often run programs out of school gyms which is both affordable and accessible.

        Check the local papers – one of the yoga studios in my city runs free yoga in the park on Sunday mornings the turnout is incredible!


        Take advantage of the free trials I mentioned above and shop around!

        In part 2 I'll get prepare you with what you need to know to start moving!


        1. group fitness classes are so much fun! I work out at home now and sometimes miss the social aspect of classes at the gym....great post! Tons of great info. thanks!!!

        2. Wow - what great music in the clips. Is that you in the clips? Looks like a lot of fun!

        3. Oooh, you’re such an inspiration. I love this blog!
          Fitness bench review.



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