When struggling with getting in shape and working fitness into your daily routine, probably the biggest initial challenge is staying motivated. The second challenge in our hectic world is getting the most that you can out of the time you can set aside to get in shape. The most frustrating thing that you can find out is that you have wasted your precious time on a routine that is ineffective.
The most obvious form of group fitness is joining a sports team. Your ability to access team sports can depend on many factors, such as the cost of joining the team and equipment, space on teams and facilities in your area. Most communities offer varying levels of competition in sports teams (for example, the A-league would be for the most skilled, all the way down to a G or H league for the truly inept but enthusiastic). Your best way to track down what is offered in your community and how you can get involved is to contact local community or recreation clubs.
If you prefer individual sports or workouts, there are still many benefits to doing these activities in some sort of group situation. Most men prefer individual workouts as they see the group alternative being attending some fruity aerobics class, but group workouts, along with the fitness industry, have evolved in several incarnations and carry with them incredible benefits that individually motivated workouts miss.
Among some popular types of groups are running or walking groups, boot camp environments, martial arts and classes such as spinning and Pilates. In terms of fitness goals, the benefits to these types of activities are numerous. First, you are doing your workout under the guidance of a trained professional who is going to help you to get the most out of every workout. If you are having problems with form or technique (problems that you may not even know you are having), the instructor can let you know and guide you toward proper form, reducing your chance of injury and increasing the effectiveness of your workout.
Also, because the instructor structures the workout, they can make sure that you are getting the variety and balance of exercise that you require, eliminating everyone’s tendency to do 100 crunches for terrific abs, while taking cardio for a strong heart for granted. Let’s face it, a large majority of us are motivated by vanity rather than health when looking for reasons to keep going that extra mile.
The instructor can also intensify your workout and work you up to a higher level of fitness in a safe way. When we finally motivate ourselves to get to gym, most of us overdo it right away and then stagnate into a repetitive routine. This neither keeps your interest nor elevates your fitness level.
You could argue that all of the benefits mentioned thus far sound like a push to get a personal trainer. If you can afford it, all the power to you. But there are benefits to working within a group that go beyond quality instruction. The major motivator in a group, especially a group of men, and even more so in a co-ed group, is the competition.
Many people who prefer individual fitness regimens (whether it is running, cycling, martial arts or others) find pleasure in competing against themselves and challenging their personal bests. When doing these activities in a group setting, you have the added element of group competition and pressure.
Anyone who has been at a party where a group of guys dare one of their mates to do any sort of stunt that will most certainly end in a trip to the hospital knows that the male psyche is often powerless in the face of a dare. And if it works for sticking a Roman candle between your ass cheeks and lighting it, why can’t it work for pushing you to levels of skill and competition that exceed your expectations?
This instinct is further intensified when you can participate in a co-ed environment. The only motivation possibly more pressing than not backing down in front of your buddies is putting your best foot forward in a group of mixed company.
If a group of men and women sweating and grunting together in a room, performing a physical task to the best of their abilities doesn’t spur some sort of evolutionary need to show that you are top of the food chain, then you should check your DNA. This intrinsic sexual motivation will help fuel the social pressure to attempt 20 push-ups (to stay within the alpha males’ circle in the class) instead of maybe stopping at ten when no one is looking in the gym.
Finally, working out in a group has its social benefits. You are surrounding yourself with other folks who share your interest not only in getting fit, but in the kind of activity you enjoy doing. Aside from possibly forming friendships and relationships outside of the classes, this provides you with a network of like-minded people with whom you can share information about training, equipment, recovering from injuries, and other details related specifically to your workout of choice.
Once you make these sorts of connections within a group, then the motivation to keep coming will exceed simply getting into or staying in shape. You will find yourself exercising for the physical, social and psychological benefits of belonging to a group of like-minded people.
The more people you know who are excited about learning and challenging themselves within a sport, the more that enthusiasm is infectious. When your spirits or desire to excel is waning, you can draw form their energy to get you through a lag in your interest level. All of these factors will be a step closer to incorporating fitness into your life as a lifestyle, as a group of people you hold affiliations with, instead of keeping fitness at bay as simply a necessary evil in your life.