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Lose the Freshman 15: In Defense Of Exercise Classes


If you would’ve asked me a year ago if I could foresee myself writing a blog post encouraging others to give group exercise classes a go, I would’ve laughed – laughed as I cowered in my room, goin’ it solo on my workout DVDs. Let me get this out of the way: group classes still scare me. There is always someone there who is fitter than you, you’re not going to be able to do all the moves the first time, and it’s unavoidable that at some point, you’re going to look like a complete and utter idiot.

And yet, I’m writing this blog post. Why? Because there’s something to be said for the popularity of group exercise classes, which I was reminded of Tuesday night when I had a chance to take part in an exclusive preview of UFC FIT with Mike Dolce (which, by the way, I’m predicting to be the next P90X or Insanity—two days later, and I’m still feeling it). While there are definitely reasons to fear group classes, from UFC FIT, to Zumba, to cycling, there are definitely reasons—better reasons—to do them, too.

Here are the lessons I recently got a refresher on:

In a group exercise class, you get pushed to the end. When you’re working out alone, it’s easy to call it quits. Ten minutes left on your workout DVD…who’s going to know you turn it off? I don’t know about you guys, but I know I cheat on my workouts at least once a week, whether it’s by skipping my last rep or cutting my run short when I get bored or lazy. And while no one knows but me, I’m only cheating myself and moving further away from the results I want. In a group class, you have to forge ahead to the end and sure, it’s hard, but you get through it—and no one said results were going to be easy.

You get help with proper form. Enough can’t be said about proper form when it comes to exercising. Running, weight lifting, stretching, everything—without proper form, you risk getting injured or negating the effect of the workout. Left to your own devices, form is easy to slack on and screw up. In a class, you not only have a group around you all doing the same moves, but also an instructor who will likely correct you if you’re doing it incorrectly. Scary, sure, but I’ll take scary over injury and lack of progress any day.

Misery loves company. Yes, it’s cheesy, but every time I do a group exercise class, I realize afterwards that most, if not all, of my fears were for naught. I have never felt overly intimidated by the others in my class. In fact, I always find myself inspired and everyone’s energy to be infectious. There’s something about sweating through a grueling workout together that brings a group of strangers together like no other.

How about you guys? What’re your rants and raves about group exercise? Share below! 

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Anna Borges

Northwestern '14

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