Working Out In Groups: Your Ticket to Commitment

Here’s the scenario. You finally join a gym because you’ve decided to really take control of your life and your personal wellness plan. You’re gonna do it this time! You put your workouts on your calendar and establish the perfect routine. You commit to coming to the club every day after work. You do it. You make it happen…for about 2 weeks. You sync up your Beats, hit that elliptical each evening, and even pick up a few dumbbells by your third trip here. You watch carefully as the other svelte gym-goers jump on the equipment and crank out some beautifully synchronized reps. You think to yourself, “I can do that cable machine-thing; it looks simple enough. I’ll try it next time.” You’re a committed fitness enthusiast now. You’ve got this.

Then life happens. Tomorrow comes and goes, and your kids get sick. You miss a day of work, and a day at the gym. When you finally get back to the office, you’re catching up on every email and phone call you missed, and then your boss calls a 4:00 p.m. meeting. There’s no way you’ll make it to the club again tonight if you want to get to daycare pick-up before they start charging you a late fee. Your streak is broken, and you’re out of your flawless routine. Before you know it, more than a week has passed and you still haven’t been back in to workout. You’re beating yourself up because you have to start over, but on Monday you have a dentist appointment after work anyway, so you won’t make it again. Let’s be honest, you didn’t really like the elliptical anyway, and that cable thing looked pretty complicated, so why bother? You’re frustrated, and reality sets in. You feel like a failure. Again. This isn’t the first time it has happened to you, and you’re tired of always coming up short.

If this sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. I have a new plan for you, and I think you’re going to like it. First of all – ditch the treadmill and the elliptical. You need people. You need fantastic and energetic people who are going to help you stay motivated, get results, and make working out fun. You need people in your life who are going to encourage you to keep going, show you what to do to amp up your calorie burn, pump up the music so you keep moving, and get you back to the club after a frustrating week that got you off track. You need to work out in a group, and we’ve got you covered.

Working out in groups is the best way to stay motivated and committed, and its way more fun than trying to go at it alone. Whether you love cardio and want to feel the sweat drip down your face like rain, or your doctor told you to lift weights to build better bone health and muscle strength, you’ve come to the right place. We have instructors and trainers to help you succeed, and participants who’ve been exactly where you are. For those of us who have found our commitment in groups, we’re hooked for life.

I took my first group cycling class in 2002, and was not in great shape; it had been far too long since I’d been in a legit training routine. I was definitely less than my best at that moment, and I felt it. I begged a co-worker to go with me to class because I was too scared to go in that dark and loud room alone. Everyone in there was killin’ it, and they looked like they knew exactly what they were doing. I didn’t know how to set up a bike, and I was afraid to look out of place. I wasn’t sure if I could hang and actually make it through the whole class anyway. The fear was real, but I wanted so badly to try something that would help me shed a few of those extra pounds I’d packed on and be able to run a 10K again. Thankfully, my colleague went with me to ease my fears. I caught the cycling bug, and here I am 15 years later still cranking out pedal strokes and loving every moment.

You may be thinking, “but I don’t have a buddy to go with me. I’m not just scared, I’m petrified!” Yep. I get it, and the struggle is real. Don’t be scared. I have a few tips for you to make it happen, and I guarantee if you keep coming back for more, you’ll find some buddies who will encourage you, keep you accountable, and become your workout crew for years to come.

    1. Arrive Early and Introduce Yourself to the Instructor When you come to a class, tell the instructor you’re new at this gig, and he or she will help you get started. You’ll get an overview of what to expect, how long you’ll be there, and any options or modifications you might want to know before you get started. The instructor can show you how to set up any equipment you’ll use and answer your questions before class begins. Essentially, you’ll get a quick 101 so you know how to feel successful and you’ll be able to come back for more. Congrats – you’ve also met your #1 fan!
    2. Try the Class at Least Three Times Did you learn how to ride a bike or tie your shoes the first time you gave it a try? Probably not, but hats off to you if you made it happen! For most of us, we need to try things a few times before we find our comfort zone and really begin to excel. Think of your first time in a class as just listening to the music, trying it out a bit, and getting a feel for the format. Look around, observe, and don’t worry about keeping up. Just move! Your second shot is about feeling more comfortable and building a bit more confidence. The third round should be hitting your stride so you can start to think less and move more. Don’t give up on the first try, and don’t be frustrated if it takes you more than three classes to find your groove or your group; you’ll thank me later!
    3. Take a Variety of Classes and Instructors Try everything that interests you! Explore a bunch of different ways to work out, so you can figure out what programs you like best. Whether it is class format, instructor cueing, or a combination of the two, you’ll find what motivates you for sure. Plus, the more classes you take, the more people you’ll meet. Talk to other participants and find out what programs they recommend, times they work out, and join them. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll find your favorite class, most motivating instructors, and new friends to sweat along with you.
    4. Ask for Help Think of the instructors and the other participants as your fitness family. We’re all in it together, and we keep each other motivated and accountable. If you’re not sure where to stand, which mat to use, or how to put your adjustable dumbbell together, we’re all here to help. Don’t hesitate to ask anyone for a hand. We all want to share our love of fitness and keep each other in check. Before you know it, your new workout buddy will be checking in on you to make sure you always have the support you need to stay committed. Miss a class? Someone will be waiting for you with a smile when you return!
    5. Don’t Overthink It One of the best parts about Group Fitness is that you can let the instructor do the thinking, while you just enjoy the fun! Your workout is already planned for you, and all you have to do is show up with an open mind, a positive attitude, and a willingness to let the energy will take you away. Let go of your hesitations and reservations, and just be mindful about what feels right to you. There will be options and modifications galore to help you feel successful, so pick what you like from the menu, and just have fun.

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Kate Rezabek is the Director of Group Fitness at American Family Fitness in Richmond, VA. She’s been in the fitness industry since 2004 when she met her first fitness love: Group Cycling. She is now certified in several different program formats including AFAA Primary Group Fitness, six MOSSA programs, Spinning, Pilates, Alloy, TRX Suspension Training, Personal Training, and is an RYT-200 through YogaFit. Kate graduated from the University of Richmond in 2002 with a B.A. in Leadership Studies and Communication Studies and from Lehigh University in 2004 with an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. Her professional background in education, business strategy, employee training, and client engagement prepared her for a full-time move into the business side of fitness in 2014 when she brought her experience from the office to her passion in the clubs. Follow her on Twitter and InstaGram (@KateRezabek) and comment on her blog, katerezabek.com, where she writes about leading with character and integrity.

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