Fit­ness expert Ruth Lynch re­veals the ben­e­fits of group ex­er­cise

Bath Chronicle - - FAMILY MATTERS - ■ ruth lynch is head of health, fit­ness and com­mu­ni­ties at life leisure sports trust (

It’s septem­ber and that means one thing – back to school. But while dig­ging out the kids’ PE kits, you might also want to dust off your own, as it’s not just chil­dren who can ben­e­fit from getting back to a class­room en­vi­ron­ment.

stud­ies have shown that in­di­vid­u­als of all ages who work out to­gether in a group/class, can ac­tu­ally lower their stress lev­els by 26%, and ex­pe­ri­ence greater per­ceived men­tal, phys­i­cal and emo­tional health im­prove­ments than those work­ing out alone.

If that wasn’t enough to get you want­ing to be a group ex­er­cise groupie, here are a few more rea­sons why you might want to get in­volved with a class act this au­tumn.


In 2010, stan­ford Univer­sity con­ducted an in­ter­est­ing study which found that in­di­vid­u­als with­out so­cial sup­port were less likely to forge last­ing fit­ness habits.

The ex­pla­na­tion be­hind this is es­sen­tially that we feel mo­ti­vated by, and obli­gated to, oth­ers we ex­er­cise with, so are less likely to quit.

Cer­tainly, at Life Leisure our long­est-serv­ing mem­bers are al­ways those that have formed so­cial bonds through group ex­er­cise.

The truth is, if you don’t want to do more ex­er­cise, you won’t.

The en­cour­age­ment and shared ca­ma­raderie be­tween group par­tic­i­pants is very em­pow­er­ing in this re­spect and makes sure that ‘want’ is al­ways there.

Also, you might get a friendly rib­bing if you say you missed a class in favour of sit­ting on the sofa watch­ing Cor­rie!


As WELL as keep­ing an eye out to make sure you are test­ing your­self, class in­struc­tors will en­sure you have the best pos­si­ble form when tak­ing part in ac­tiv­i­ties, check­ing that your body is in the right po­si­tions, and that you are go­ing at the right pace etc.

This can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the risk of in­jury and, of course, help you im­prove your per­for­mance.

But stud­ies have also shown that be­ing in a group ac­tu­ally boosts per­for­mance (and hap­pi­ness) too.

As well as hav­ing team-mates on hand who can help spot ways you can im­prove, we nat­u­rally tend to ‘sync’ move­ments with those around us which, re­searchers be­lieve, re­sults in greater en­dor­phin re­lease. It re­ally is a feel good fac­tor for con­sid­er­a­tion.


ONE of the big­gest rea­sons group ex­er­cise classes are so great is that there are so many dif­fer­ent types.

From the more se­date world of yoga, Pi­lates and tai Chi, to the fast-paced fun of Bodycom­bat, Box­fit, Zumba and spin, the range of choice means there is al­ways a class out there to suit an in­di­vid­ual’s spe­cific abil­i­ties, in­ter­ests and mo­ti­va­tions.

Also, many classes are now of­fered as tai­lored ver­sions for dif­fer­ent age groups – adult and youth hula hoop­ing is a good ex­am­ple.

Box­er­cise, mar­tial arts and gym cir­cuit classes are also com­monly adapted for age groups.

It’s a great way to cul­ti­vate shared in­ter­ests with fam­ily mem­bers and mo­ti­vate each other.

In fact the power of this is so strong that many providers now offer ded­i­cated fam­ily classes where fam­ily groups can all take part in spe­cific ac­tiv­i­ties to­gether.

It’s worth ex­plor­ing.


A BIT of what you fancy does you good, or so we are told. But when it comes to ex­er­cise too much of it can be detri­men­tal to progress.

when ex­er­cis­ing alone, we all have a ten­dency to ‘stick with what we know’ which can mean we do the same rou­tine, ex­er­cis­ing the same mus­cles, over and over. This can of­ten re­sult in a fit­ness plateau (and be­come a bit bor­ing!).

while all ex­er­cise is good of course, sur­pris­ing our bod­ies with new mo­tions – in other words keep­ing our mus­cles guess­ing – re­sults in a more bal­anced, and there­fore im­proved over­all work­out.

Even if you at­tend the same class every week, a good group ex­er­cise in­struc­tor will al­ways look at ways to mix things up and in­tro­duce new chal­lenges to keep you, and your body, in­ter­ested.

Find FRIENDS Through FIT­NESS Kids may in­evitably dread go­ing back to school af­ter the sum­mer hol­i­days but there is one as­pect they all look for­ward to: see­ing and mak­ing friends.

The same is true with group ex­er­cise classes. As well as boost­ing your phys­i­cal fit­ness and men­tal well­be­ing, tak­ing any class is a so­cial af­fair and a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to meet new peo­ple and make life­long friends. One leisure provider even found re­cently that one in ten of its mem­bers now live with some­one they met through fit­ness! with so many amaz­ing ben­e­fits, head­ing back to class this septem­ber could re­ally be the start of some­thing special.

A good group ex­er­cise in­struc­tor will al­ways look at ways to mix things up

A spin class

hula hoop­ing is great for all the fam­ily

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