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Two key strategies that experts often recommend for helping people stick to their fitness plans are having a workout buddy and finding something you love to do so you stick with it. Group exercise classes work for both strategies.
The “workout buddy” theory says that you are more apt to stick to an exercise regimen if you have a friend relying on you to workout with. Experts recommend that you make workout appointments with your buddy so that you feel obligated to attend. If you have a friend to attend a class with, you can both enroll and enjoy seeing each other. After class, you can commiserate over your aching quadriceps.
If you don’t already have a friend willing to go to class with you, it’s not a problem. A group exercise class will give you a whole roomful of readymade workout buddies. If they aren’t your friends when you start taking the class, they will become friends as you continue to attend over time. You’ll start to look forward to seeing the other regulars, and your common, social experience is a good basis for new friendships.
The second part of the stick to a fitness plan is to find something you love to do. Group exercise classes come in an almost endless variety. You may find that you like the swooping, joyous exuberance of Zumba, or you may prefer the serenity of yoga or ballet barre classes. Group exercise truly offers something for everybody.
Fitness centers are constantly inventing new class formats. There are boot camp classes for people who enjoy rigorous training. There are step classes for people who enjoy rhythmic movement but who don’t like to dance. There’s spinning for people who love bicycling. There are abs-only classes, weight classes, Pilates classes, interval classes, and plain old aerobics classes. You can stick to one kind of class or try them all. The list is endless, and you are bound to find a few variations that you love.
Group exercise classes are a win/win for all participants. You can get fit and be social at the same time.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|