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Column: Working out in a group setting can be rewarding

Kathy Johnson is the creative director for Albert Lea magazine and the Albert Lea Tribune. During her spare time she is a group fitness instructor at Albert Lea Family Y.

I’ve always considered myself to be somewhat of a lone wolf when it came to fitness. I enjoyed going to the gym alone and running outside alone. Over the past few years teaching as a fitness instructor, I see the benefits of group exercise for all levels of fitness.

With the support of good instructors and the inspiration of the others in the class, most people never give up. When you are on your own at the gym, it is so much easier to stop your exercise routine, unlike in a group setting where people push themselves from start to finish to keep up with those around them. Friendly competition will keep most people going, and they will actually work out much harder than on their own.

Group fitness gives people the confidence they might lack working out on their own. I find that by working out in a group, with the instructions of the teacher people are given the support they need to unleash their true physical potential. Just a few minutes into a class, something magical starts to happen — people start to enjoy exercising rather than seeing it as a chore.

Participants take accountability in attending the scheduled fitness class, as their peers and instructor will be looking forward to working with them. It’s easy to skip the gym when you work out on your own. Group fitness gives people that extra push they might need to make sure they not only show up to class each day, but make sure they work to their full potential when they get there.

You will make better use of your time. Most people use the gym for a half hour, maybe an hour, but are you really working out for that entire time? Chances are, probably not. Group fitness classes are so much more efficient. From start to finish, you’re working and pushing yourself harder than you could have imagined. A structured fitness class will also make sure you hit all of your major muscle groups.

It’s more fun! Lets face it, human beings are social creatures, and for the most part we love being around other people. We like to laugh, joke and have a good time. This is one of my favorite things about teaching fitness classes. All of the participants joke together about the physical agony their bodies are in during the workout while we are simultaneously pushing each other to workout even harder.

In my opinion, working out in a group setting trumps working out alone every single time. In a world where we have become so dependent on smartphones, texting, email, etc., working out with a group offers a chance for human interaction that is disappearing. Group workouts motivate you, give you confidence, hold you accountable, make the most of your time while working out and allow you a chance to have some fun and make friends. Group fitness requires you to get involved and be active. So what are you waiting for? Come out and take a group fitness class today.