From the physical gains to the many mental health benefits it offers, we all know exercise is good for us. But if you always exercise alone, you might be missing out on some of the additional benefits that group exercise has to offer. By swapping just one of your solo fitness sessions to a group session each week, you may find you see improvements in both your fitness levels and form much more quickly than sticking it out alone. And if you’re new to fitness altogether, exercising with a group is the perfect way to start! At Lydia Smith Fitness, we know motivation can be one of the biggest barriers to maintaining a fitness routine, especially during the autumn and winter months, which is why we offer year-round outdoor group sessions. Here are our top seven reasons why they’re so popular – and why we think you should join in too, to see for yourself what it’s all about…
1 Great camaraderie
Probably the biggest benefit of group exercise is the social element! Working out in the company of friendly faces is hugely motivating and having a group of like-minded people around you to cheer you on when you start to flag can give you a real boost. The great thing about our group sessions is that everyone’s in the same boat – we’re all there to get fit, have fun and shrug off the stresses of the day – meaning there’s a real sense of camaraderie. Who knows, if you come along to a session, you might end up making friends for life! Which leads us to…
2 Added motivation and accountability
Be honest… how often have you told yourself you’ll go for a run or head to the gym, only to look outside into the dark, cold evening and end up on the sofa instead, binging on Netflix? Us too! Which is where group exercise comes in. Once you’ve made a commitment to others to turn up, you’re far more likely to stick to it. After all, knowing the group will be expecting to see you makes it far harder to back out at the last minute. Block-booking sessions by paying in advance is another great way to stay accountable, because you’ve made a commitment not just to yourself, but to your instructor, too. Getting out for that workout might sometimes be hard, but it’s always worth it. Because yes, the sofa feels good… but that post-workout glow feels better.
3 You’ll push yourself
Exercising on your own – whether it’s doing a home workout, heading for a run or going to the gym – can see you fall into a fitness rut all too quickly. After all, with no-one else there to spur you on, it can be easy to perform the same number of reps or run the same distance each session, which will result in a fitness plateau. To really ensure you hit your fitness goals, a group session is the way to go, as everyone around you will act as your cheer squad – and you won’t want to let them (or yourself) down. And of course, there’s always that spot of friendly competition, too!
4 It mixes up your workouts
If you find you tend to stick to what you know when it comes to exercise, you’ll probably get bored pretty quickly. But not if you sign up to some group sessions! Fitness instructors are an enthusiastic and creative bunch, and are brilliant at designing sessions filled with variety, to keep you on your toes. What’s more, you’ll tend to have access to a whole heap of equipment during a group session, from kettlebells to battle ropes, which can really help you mix up your workouts.
5 You get the benefit of a PT for a fraction of the price
Let’s be honest – even if you’ve been doing a particular workout routine for a while now, how certain are you that your form is correct? Performing any exercise incorrectly (even if it’s just a slight imbalance) can result in an injury over time, on top of which, you might not be getting the full benefit of each move if you’re not doing it right. Working out under the supervision of a qualified instructor means you’ll get the benefit of their expertise – and group sessions are far friendlier on the wallet than solo PT sessions. What’s more, if you have an injury, your instructor will be able to offer safe adaptations for all exercises, so you can still get the mental-health benefits of exercise far more safely that trying to push through the pain by yourself.
6 Safety in numbers
It’s something you shouldn’t have to think about, but sadly you do need to take your safety into consideration. With the nights now drawing in, heading out for a run by yourself after dark can sometimes feel intimidating. Unfortunately for many of us, the evenings are our prime time for exercise, which can leave you feeling unsafe come autumn and winter. But by joining an outdoor fitness class, you can still get your evening exercise fix, within the security of a group setting. There’s safety in numbers, after all.
7 Fresh air
If you’re used to working out in a gym or as part of an indoor group class, you might not realise just how liberating exercising in the great outdoors can be! Taking your fitness routine outside is proven to be better for your mental health – one study reported that exercising outdoors was associated with increased energy and positivity, and decreased tension, anger and depression. Want to see the positive effects for yourself? Come along to a session!
Lydia Smith Fitness sessions cater for all fitness levels and abilities. If you’d like to try out a session with us, you’re more than welcome – and your first session is free! I run sessions on Tuesdays (ladies only) and Thursdays (mixed), from 7.30-8.30pm, in Belmont Lane Open Space (opposite Edgebury Primary School). After your free trial, sessions are £10 pay as you go/£45 for a block of 6 (to be used within 8 weeks)/£70 for a block of 10 (to be used within 13 weeks). To book, please download the Gymcatch app and search for ‘Lydia Smith Fitness’. I look forward to meeting you soon!