You may have noticed that group fitness classes have surged in popularity in recent years. People are flocking to specialty studios and gyms for methods such as Orangetheory, Crossfit, Soul Cycle, Pure Barre, and Core Power Yoga, to name just a few.
Why are group fitness classes so popular, and what are the benefits?
If you ask a devotee of any of the above-mentioned brands, they’ll likely rave about how great the classes make them feel.
As it turns out, the post-class euphoria that these people are experiencing is probably a real, measurable psychological phenomenon with long-term health benefits. Science is beginning to shed light on some of the ways in which these benefits can be measured.
New research from Journal of the American Osteopathic Association suggests that group fitness classes may be superior to solo workouts, specifically when it comes to stress reduction and increased emotional wellbeing. Although the only participants in the study were medical students, there is good reason to believe that the results are applicable to Americans at large. Medical students were chosen for the research because “medical school often produces intense psychological distress… This distress is manifested as depression, anxiety, burnout, increased alcohol use, fatigue, and low quality of life.” Most Americans of working age experience similar issues, with the CDC and American Institute of Stress reporting that 44% of working people feel significantly more stressed than they did five years ago.
Any regular physical activity is good for your health. All exercise has the potential to reduce stress, and help manage anxiety and depression. But group fitness seems to be particularly effective at delivering these psychological benefits. Why might this be?
Group fitness has a few unique attributes. For example, one of the perks of a group class is the expert guidance from certified instructors. It’s cheaper than personal training, while still offering individualized attention. A good instructor will notice if you’re doing something that’s unsafe for your body, or just plain ineffective.
Also, deciding to attend a class regularly may offer unique encouragement to stick with your exercise routine. Classes typically happen on a particular day and time, which takes the guesswork out of when to squeeze in your workout.
There’s also the high probability that you will end up performing movements and activities in class that you never would have thought to do on your own. Spiderman pushups? Donkey kicks? Frog pull-downs? It gets you out of your comfort zone, which is essential when you want to see real results from a fitness routine.
Last but not least, we can pin the “feel-good” benefits on the fact that group classes are usually tons of fun. With music bumping, surrounded by a group of like-minded people, it’s hard not to feel a strong sense of purpose and community.
Did you know that OmBody Health specializes in providing on-site group classes that are fun, effective and accessible across a wide variety of fitness levels, body types, and wellness goals? Make the amazing benefits of group fitness available to your team – contact us today to schedule a class at your workplace!
About the Author
Julia Workman, CYT
Julia is an experienced yogi, athlete and dancer with a passion for wellness. As the Fitness Program Director OmBody Health, she designs and implements Yoga and fitness programs for our corporate clients. She also teaches powerful workshops that guide busy people toward healthier work/life integration.