Group exercise has become very popular and there is an endless selection of classes, with almost every gym offering classes all day long. I started with beginners yoga but was soon introduced to ClassPass which changed my life. Having all these different choices was so exciting and I got really into trying all the new classes and different styles of training. One day I felt like doing high intensity circuit training and then the next day I went for something more chilled like reformer pilates. It’s been about two years since I first started doing more group classes and in these two years I have realised that these types of classes might be doing more harm than good… for some at least.
Don’t get me wrong I think it’s great that more people are getting active. In class you can see a mix of ages, fitness levels, genders and sizes. It’s great that people want to be more active and really take care of themselves. I mean who wouldn’t want to take their future and health seriously! Group classes are great because they are much cheaper than having a personal trainer, more fun than trying to do something alone in the gym and you get such a huge variety. It’s already a social thing to do instead of going out for a big lunch or a glass of wine. I love going to classes with friends. It’s motivating and if you’re a competitive person like me, you’ll also push yourself more.
Now comes the but… so many people I see in class unfortunately don’t get the movements right or they are not strong enough for some exercises. That then leads to bad posture or just simply doing half a movement and that really doesn’t get you anywhere. I’ve been trying to figure out why this happens so often. Maybe because it’s not the instructors duty after they’ve demonstrated to the class how to preform the movements correctly. Imagine getting a few seconds brief from an instructor who’s strong, flexible and can do the movements with their eyes closed. How could that possibly be enough guidance especially for a beginner. Maybe it’s laziness. The instructor sees someone doing a movement slightly wrong but hey its just for a minute and then they’re already on to the next exercise. So no need or time to correct.
The problem might also be: are you really listening and observing. You think you’re listening and will remember what the instructor just showed you but in reality maybe you’re more focused on checking out who’s in class, chatting to a friend, thinking of work or you’re so confident you think you know exactly what you’re doing. Often the worst cases are when you’ve only ever done group classes and never actually received one on one guidance. You wont have any idea what your weaknesses or imbalances might be so that you can make sure you don’t injure yourself. You’ve probably noticed some good changes in your body after starting classes. Yay I’ve lost a bit of weight or yay I look more toned. Which is amazing! But one day you might start having lower back pains, one shoulder is much tighter than the other one, or your knees hurt or feels a bit funny etc.
What I’m trying to say is I think people should educate them selves more. There’s a reason I went to BEGINNERS yoga. It really helped me build a good knowledge of how to preform different postures correctly so when I continued on to more advanced classes I had the basics. I’d also done personal training, I was getting one on one education and my trainer made sure to correct my technique, posture and imbalances.
I don’t want you to think all group classes are the same. Some classes I’ve been to have amazing observing instructors who definitely make sure everyone is getting the help they need.
Once you have the basics under control you’ll be on a much better route to a healthy and fit life.
Positives and negatives about group classes
+ motivating and fun
+ endless variety
+ cheaper than PT
– the class is not personalisied to fit your needs and fitness level
– not many beginners classes
– lack of correction during exercise
- Focus on listening and observing while the instructor is demonstrating movements
- if you’re a beginner or unsure about something don’t be afraid to ask for assistance
- maybe start with doing some personal training session to get some one on one education
- learn the basics because then you can make sure you’re preforming movements correctly and you’re minimising risk of injury