5 reasons to embrace group exercise

For some, the thought of going into a gym by themselves can be daunting. If you have limited exercise experience, one of the best ways to improve your fitness is working out in a class or small group training environment. There are many benefits to this sort of training, compared to going it alone in the weights room. Here's 5 reasons you should start group exercise today!

1. You don't need to know what you're doing

Group training is led by a qualified instructor who will build each workout for you. Just show up and do what they tell you to do! This makes group exercise a great way to try new activities or types of exercise that you've not tried before, and a good instructor will tailor the class to the participants' levels of experience and fitness.

2. It's fun!

Watching a fitness video at home in your living room is fine, but being in a room with music blaring and other people sweating alongside you is much better! I'm fully aware that is some people's idea of hell, but as soon as those endorphins kick in you'll get into the flow of it. I've seen people turn up tired, stressed and - shock horror - even hungover to classes, but after the blood gets pumping for an hour they leave with a smile on their face.

3. Perfect your form

If you're new to exercise, probably the most useful element of having a qualified instructor on hand is that they will guide you on each exercise and make sure you are doing it correctly and safely. Having good form and technique will ensure you don't get injured, and will make you look like a complete pro when you exercise alone.

4. Motivation

When you work out on your own it's much easier to quit before you should, or to give your workout less than 100%. But when you're surrounded by other people, you tend to push a little bit harder because everyone else is working hard too. I've seen even the least competitive people work at a higher level when surrounded by a group - and it also helps when you have an instructor telling you to give it everything you have!

5. It's social

Whether you're an introvert or an extrovert, group exercise is a great social activity. You can go along with a friend as a virtuous alternative to going to the pub or going for dinner (and you can always do that afterwards, smug in the knowledge that you've earned it). It's also a great way to meet new people - I know lots of people who have formed lasting friendships with their new gym and workout buddies. If you haven't tried group exercise before, here are some great places to start, to suit all budgets and interests:

  • parkrun - parkrun is a free event that sees people of all ability running or walking 5km routes all around the world. Just register, print your barcode (for logging your time), and turn up to an event. I'm a regular parkrunner in and around Brighton and Hove, and over the years I've made new friends, improved my speed, and met an awesome community.

  • MoveGB - MoveGB is fitness network through which you can find classes and activities at venues all around the UK. There are loads of types of classes available - including my circuits class at Alive Gym - and they often run introductory offers and promotional prices to help entice new members.

  • Group PT or private group sessions - This can be a more affordable option than you'd think, as with a group chipping in for a private training session you can get fit for less than the cost of a pint each week. You can organise sessions in local parks or venues, and have the instructor build a bespoke training programme for your group. I'm currently working with Beach Tennis UK every week to help improve their fitness before the new season - if you'd like to book me to run a session with you and your group then get in touch!

One of my circuits groups totally bossing their kettlebell form