By Jen Racki

While it may contradict what you learned in grade school, two plus two can equal five (2+2=5)... well, at least when it comes to exercising with others!

There’s a heap of evidence that working out in groups compounds the benefits already achieved with exercise alone. Sticking to a routine, meeting new people, boosting your fitness level, getting out of your head, holding yourself accountable, receiving cheers from the instructor and fellow participants... just to name a few, well, I suppose that list is more than just a few. It makes a workout more than just fitness for your body. Connections are built and our mental health loves connections. Group fitness enhances your life.

Ready to discover your tribes? Hopefully, the thought of doing so doesn’t take you back down memory lane to your junior high school dance and the uncomfortable feeling of standing along the wall with an open dance floor. And, the word “tribes” is intentionally plural. A mix of different fitness formats and people, taps into hidden stimuli within our well-being that we may not have known were there. Plus, isn’t variety the spice of life?  

That’s not to say that every group class is for everyone. What’s most important is that you give them a try and don’t give up after one class. Awkwardness is normal, just like the junior high school dance. Once things get started and you begin to move, you’ll get into the groove (and channel your inner-Madonna). However, unlike school dances, do your best to leave any shyness at the door.  

The instructor and others are there to help and support you, so engage with them. It feels good when someone asks you for help and you can offer it to them. So, if you need help, ask and this will also make that person elated. And, no need to wait until you have a question, simply go up to say hi. At every group class, make it a goal to meet one new person. Just before the class is about to begin, introduce yourself.  Since it’s just before the instructor starts, it will be brief and no awkward silence of what to say next. Just like that, a connection is made through a simple hello or asking for clarification on a move/posture. 

You’ll discover the contagious sense of respect and appreciation that permeates throughout the room. You’re all pushing yourselves to improve, and that underlying feeling of camaraderie is unlike any other.

Hopefully, by this point, you are sold to try a group fitness class or even a different one than you had before. Now comes the “but.” But, I am in a situation where I cannot go to a group class, whether it’s because of stay-at-home requirements, traveling, schedule conflicts, or anything in between, you can find group classes anywhere and anyhow. With technology at our fingertips, locating a class to attend is endless. Gyms offer free trials, city community centers publish schedules open to the public, and many studios support drop-ins for a small cost. Google is your friend!

At times (like today), in-person workouts may be very limited if not unavailable completely, such as when a stay-at-home order is in effect. This is when, by far, our available technology blossoms more options for group fitness and community. Numerous apps and websites are out there to provide “do at home” workouts on-demand, whenever you choose. 

Those that have, and promote their community are strongly recommended. This usually exists through online forums and apps that let you interact with other members.  This fitness community allows you to connect with other athletes. Members might share their challenges and successes, discuss different training techniques, solicit advice or support, and celebrate each other’s achievements. This communal element offers benefits that run the gamut from physical to mental to social, and I think we all will take that kind of freebie any day. You have a community right here at Hylete - Check out Hylete’s community!

Online fitness options that include a Live schedule are a huge plus. You can treat it like a gym schedule and hold yourself accountable to attend. Instructors will cheer you on and call your name out and you'll be famous... well almost. Most of the instructors ask that you engage with them through social media; you are part of the community.

Now, I can’t end this article without a challenge to push virtual classes to the next level for yourself.  Do the online workout with a friend, all done virtually. Via Zoom or other video conferencing app, conference together with your friend(s), and the online class. This is done by everyone joining the Zoom call, one person shares their screen and sound, while each person is still on video and audio to talk to one another. You work out together and the only difference is not physically being in the same room.

Give group fitness a try. You’ll feel supported, encouraged, and challenged to rise to new heights. Not only will this community help you take your fitness to the next level, but it will also enhance your life overall. The human connection is priceless and we are stronger together than we are apart. Then, you will start to believe that two plus two does actually equal five.


About Author:

Jen Racki is a certified instructor for the group fitness program “HIGH Fitness,” bringing aerobics back with a makeover... Think HIIT training, Barre, and Toning while throwing in a little Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Dua Lipa, Jonas Brothers, Bon Jovi, and Backstreet Boys. 

As both an instructor and group class participant, she shares her passion for empowering others through fitness and community while providing a place where a person can be true to themselves while having fun! Her goal is to give back the physical and mental stamina achieved personally from group classes, so others feel the same joy, confidence, and warmth of something amazing.

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