Group Fitness and Why It Works, Like at the West Roxbury YMCA

Exercising in a group can be fun, challenging and personally motivating.


We all know the benefits of exercise—both body and mind. But did you know group exercise often leads to better results?

Experts from AOL Health and www.everydayhealth.com agree that group exercise provides support, structure and accountability. Exercising in a group can be fun, challenging and personally motivating.

Patient information in the Journal of American Academy of Physician Assistants recommends that people exercise with either a group or a partner because they “are more likely to stay on track.”

As outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine, benefits of group fitness include a “social environment, safe and productive design, consistent schedule, accountability for participation and beginner-friendly experience.” These factors contribute to “increased regimen adherence and retention,” according to the Medical Fitness Association.

Another benefit of group exercise is a potentially tougher workout and more well-rounded exercise routine, with an instructor encouraging members of the group to push themselves.

Fitness classes are also a great way to meet people in your community.

Typically, your local fitness center, gym or YMCA will offer classes for all fitness levels. Try high-energy aerobics, indoor cycling, kickboxing, spinning and Zumba for cardiovascular endurance.  Zumba is a dynamic, fun, cardio-based workout of dancing to a fusion of Latin and international music.

Zumba Plus is a traditional Zumba class that also incorporates weight training and quick interval exercises. Zumba Gold is a great option for beginners or for those looking for a modified/lighter Latin dance cardio class.

Stretching, Tai Chi or yoga classes are good options for increasing flexibility and mind-body improvement.  Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese form of exercise that uses graceful movement and breathing techniques to improve posture, coordination and circulation. Tai Chi may also be taught in chairs.

Small group training usually includes classes such as kettlebell and cycling/running.

According to www.womenshealthmag.com, kettlebells make traditional dumbbell moves more challenging, and working out with cast-iron kettlebells will add definition to your shoulders and back.

Other small group options are chair yoga and water group exercise classes such as deep H2O run and yoqua.

Whichever group exercise you select—from Zumba and step aerobics to yoga and indoor cycling—you won’t be bored with the variety of options available at today’s fitness centers.

One of the best places to participate in group fitness is at the West Roxbury YMCA.

Carole Brown May 02, 2013 at 03:24 PM
The social aspect is key. Throughout my 34 year career of teaching fitness classes all over the Boston area, the Y is by far the most engaging. Friendships are developed in class settings and people really do care about each other. I have students who call each other or even email me if they will be M.I.A. They feel a sense of belonging unlike other clubs where they rush in and out of. Also, seeing people in class with every fitness level gives new students hope. People do complain about the size of the room, the temperature control etc. BUT they keep coming back and realize those things are trivial when you look at the big picture. Getting healthy with people who care is paramount!
Cathy Slade May 03, 2013 at 04:36 PM
Carole is right. Members do care about each other and many a lasting friendship has begun at the Y. It is not merely a place to get physically fit. There are always people greeting each other and having conversations in the fitness room. Parents converse as they watch their children at swim team and swim lessons. Seniors arrive early for their classes and socialize. I have friends I met through the Y 30 years ago and we still get together as a group every other month! I am on the Board of Directors of the YMCA and am proud to announce that the YMCA of the USA conducted an all-encompassing survey and found this Y to be one of the top Y's in the country on friendliness with a rating of 84 our of 100, and the best of the the eleven facilities comprising the Greater Boston YMCA. The staff set the tone for friendliness, camaraderie and being accommodating to members. PS. I have begun taking Carole's Body Sculpt classes and feel more fit already.


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