Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pros and Cons of Group Exercise

Weigh Pros & Cons of Group X - Photo of scales by Nikodem Nijaki from Wikimedia Commons
What are the advantages and disadvantages of aerobics classes? Ask ten different people and you'll probably get ten different answers.

Group exercise classes are quite popular these days, from the hard core cardio kickboxing classes to the fun and sometimes exotic dance aerobics like Zumba. Those who are looking to build muscle or maintain bone density might work out in a group setting with barbells, dumbells, kettlebells, bands, balls, or perhaps using one's own body weight in classes like yoga and pilates. Group exercise can also be found in the pool or even outside or on the track these days.

This type of exercise leaves some people revitalized and energized while it leaves others shaking their heads saying "never again!" Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of group exercise classes.

Pros of Group Exercise or Aerobics Classes

Many group exercise instructors are highly trained and provide great workouts designed to help people to get the most out of their workout. The energy and time that some instructors put into a class is obvious as they offer efficient and effective exercise options. Most instructors are also trained in basic first aid, CPR, and other emergency situations, which can be helpful and even life-saving in some instances.

Many people find it helpful to have a regular schedule for exercise, and group exercise classes can provide a predictable routine with a set time frame. Some people find it much more enjoyable to work out in a group setting and may push themselves harder, particularly if they see others mastering moves in the class. Some of the best planned group exercise classes provide a variety of workout levels so that people of different fitness levels can participate in classes.

Group exercise classes are often included in the membership charge or might find free classes at a local senior center. Those who regularly attend classes may find that they become more tone, increase cardiovascular health, improve bone density, become more flexible, decrease risks for numerous chronic illnesses, and become more energetic. Some may even find group exercise classes to work well for weight management.

A group exercise class might also provide a social outlet for people who are looking for friendships. Some people may find a great accountability partner or even a new friend in a group exercise class. Perhaps a participant enjoys dancing but does not have a dance partner – many people find great music along with fun moves for maintaining health while having fun.

Cons of Group Exercise Classes

Although set times may work well for some, classes may be offered at times that are inconvenient for others. People often find that workouts are most convenient when they can stop by on the way to or from work or after dropping off the kids at school, etc. Group exercise classes might be cancelled at the last minute due to a variety of reasons such as an illness, problems with the environment such as pool water temperature, or low class numbers.

Some group exercise classes might carry a price tag, and many people who find themselves in a budget crunch may simply drop group exercise and look for less expensive exercise options. They may opt for exercise videos at home, choose a walking program, or do yard work to stay in shape rather than going for the group exercise burn.

Some instructors are more experienced than others. Classes that do not include a warm-up or cool down or any choices in levels may not work well for all participants and could potentially injure others. Someone who has never attended a particular group exercise class might feel intimidated if the class begins to do moves that are unfamiliar, too fast, or unsafe for him or her.

The music may be an issue for many participants in a group exercise setting. It is very hard to please everyone. Actually, I would dare say that it is impossible to please everyone. I can work out to almost any genre of music; however, many aerobics participants may have very specific likes and dislikes related to choices of music. Although many like songs by original artists, many of these would require special licensing to play and may not have the appropriate number of beats per minute for that type of exercise. Long pauses between songs may negatively affect the workout as well. Music volume may also play a role in whether or not someone can enjoy a group exercise class safely.

Is Group Exercise Right For You?

With such a wide variety of classes available, many people can find a good fit with a group exercise class. Those who enjoy being around people in other settings may particularly enjoy taking group exercise classes. People who have tried one class and did not find it to their liking may find a completely different atmosphere under another instructor or in a different class setting, so it might be worth a try again.

Photo of step aerobics class by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jon Dasbach from Wikimedia Commons
Always check with a healthcare provider before beginning or changing any exercise routine.

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