30 Years of Group Fitness
It was 30 years ago this week that I built up the courage, took a risk, and stepped into my first aerobics class, and I have been hooked on group fitness ever since. Doing group fitness for four or five hours a week for 30 years means that I have been in studios for about 6,000 hours with several hundred different instructors, and thousands of fellow students! Class formats have changed over the years, but my love and commitment to staying fit through group classes has never changed.
In her the TED talk, Dr. Susan Pinker cites a scientific study that identified the top ten factors for what it takes to live to 100. Smoking cessation, for example ranked third. Exercise came in a paltry seventh, and being lean vs overweight was eighth. The top two factors, by a significant margin, were social integration and close relationships. In addition to busting butt and burning calories, group fitness classes provide a great opportunity to promote social integration and form close relationships.
To commemorate these 30 years, here are two related posts I wrote two years ago:
- Why I Love Group Fitness
I joined a health club in November 1988 which had an indoor track. Being too wimpy to run outdoors in the cold weather at the time, I began my thrice weekly routine of running 30 – 40 laps around the track for the next four months. How do you spell B-O-R-I-N-G?
Every now and then I would peak into the group fitness studio and notice that people seemed to be having a good time inside. I finally built up the courage to give it a try. Although I stumbled through the choreography at first, I was hooked on group fitness from Day 1.
Back then you basically had two choices: high impact aerobics, or low impact aerobics. Step came along in 1991, followed in rapid succession by spin, kick boxing, barbell classes and various forms of circuit training. Today most gyms offer many group fitness options, so there is something available to satisfy everyone’s interests and fitness goals.
So, in a nutshell, here are five reasons why I love group fitness:
- I can put my head in neutral, and just follow the skillful guidance of my instructor.
- I get to do challenging and beneficial exercises that I would never attempt on my own.
- I feel like I am part of an accountability group that I never want to let down by slacking off.
- I have had the privilege of meeting many great people over the years.
- And by gosh, it is still a lot of fun!
- Duty, Discipline, or Delight
A person can be motivated to exercise out of either: Duty, Discipline or Delight.
- Duty: Something you feel like you have to do but don’t particularly like it or feel comfortable doing it
- Discipline: It becomes less painful and part of your schedule as you get into a groove
- Delight: It becomes a joyful part of your life as you see the fruit of your efforts
Here are my tips for how to come the place where working out is a delight:
- Find something you really like to do (there are so many exercise options available today)
- With people you like to do it with (even if it is by yourself)
- Mix it up or make a change whenever necessary to increase your level of delight
Another way to look at this is moving from something you HAVE to do, to something you WANT to do, to something you GET to do.
Here’s to the next 30 years of fitness and fun!