The Pros and Cons of Group Training

Fitness classes are all the rage, especially this time of year.

As soon as January 1st rolls around, lots of people start signing up for Zumba, spinning, cardio kickboxing, yoga, bootcamps, or whatever other group fitness classes are offered in their areas. Hell, even Jazzercise is still around after all these years.

What is it about training in this kind of setting that’s appealing to so many people, and is this something you should pursue?

Of course, that depends on your goals and what you want from your training, but there are a lot of good reasons for training in a group class setting, but it’s not the right approach for everyone, though.

In this article, I’ll go over the pros and cons of training in a group setting, so you can find the approach that works for you.

As you set your goals this year, my ICE program might be just what you need to jumpstart your training and start building the foundation you need. Maybe you can get a friend or two to join in the fun 😉, but have a read before you make your decision.

3 Reasons to Start Going to Group Fitness Classes

Let’s start with the pros of training in a class setting (good news if you just bought a full year worth of Zumba classes 😳.

1. Great for Motivation and Staying Consistent

Training with a community of like minded people can be powerfully motivating. Working out with such people tends to increase your intensity during workouts and provide accountability. There are also interesting mental health benefits to group training (especially outdoors), particularly with reducing stress and improving general quality of life.

With that community accountability and magnetism, it becomes easier to tap into the mighty power of being consistent and persistent with your training.

Having somewhere that you need to be at a certain time with real people expecting you (not some YouTube or DVD virtual class/trainer) can encourage you to find a really solid rhythm to your training. The act of getting ready and showing up becomes a ritual, which can further reinforce the positive habit change.

2. Affordable Alternative to Personal Training

Price-wise, you’re also in luck, at least when compared to 1-on-1 training.

If you’re going to classes with quality instruction, and the classes aren’t too crowded, you can get some of the benefits of supervised training without the massive price tag that comes along with personal training, and you’ll be able to do far more sessions for your money.

3. Gives You a Chance to Try Things Out

Many small group training studios, dance studios, and martial arts schools offer time-limited class programs, or free trials. This allows you to make a small investment in experimenting with new things until something really catches your attention. Then you can dive in deeper.

3 Reasons to Avoid Group Fitness Classes

For some people, group classes are the best possible training option, and if that’s you, then by all means, keep doing them! (Be sure to read the next section on how to make sure you’re going to high quality classes.)

Here are some of the cons of training in this setting.

1. Lack of Continuity

With the exception of some specific classes (such as a particular martial art, or yoga, or style of dance), most drop-in classes at your local gym or fitness studio won’t necessarily follow any sort of path toward an end-goal.

You might go to the same exact class on a Monday, a Thursday, and a Saturday of the same week. It’s just about showing up and doing something, rather than showing up and working toward something. And that’s fine, sometimes, but that lack of continuity makes it hard to stay motivated and stay on track.

And for those classes that do have a sequence or plan, if you miss a class or two or three, when you come back to class, it’s often hard to just pick up where you left off.

2. Poor Setting for Learning Skills

Related to the lack of continuity, this type of setting makes it much more difficult (if possible at all) to learn specific skills. Skills-training, by definition, requires continuity and logical progressions.

Another aspect that makes a class setting less-than-ideal for skills training is that it’s inflexible. The instructor is there to teach, demonstrate, and/or supervise a specific class structure, which means less opportunity to make adjustments to your skills training on a particular day. And when you’re working toward a skill, you need that flexibility, since every day is different.

3. No Individualised Instruction

This is quite obvious, especially when compared to 1-on-1 training. But it does also depend on the class size and the quality of the trainer. Speaking of trainers, Eternally Fit doesn’t have trainers, we have coaches! What are the differences? Well, you will have to come to some of our classes to see 😃.

What to Look for in a Group Fitness Class

Like most things in life, not all fitness classes are created equal. If the group setting is the right approach for you and your goals, then you should absolutely do that for your training. But there are some things you’ll want to look out for, to make sure you’re getting the most from the experience.

Smaller Group Size

Within group classes there is a wide spectrum of size and atmosphere.

Some spin classes are gigantic, loud, and fast, where you might train for months and the instructor will never even hear your name, much less learn it. But tucked away one room over might be a quieter, more consistent class of 5-10 people doing some funky moves on the floor.

Whatever specific type of class you’re interested in, look for those with a smaller group of people, and you’ll get a more personalised experience.

Qualified Instructor

Once you find the class that appeals to you, have a closer look at the instructor.

Look up their credentials. Have they studied and practiced the kinds of training in which you are interested? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, are they just collecting certifications? When you attend the class, pay close attention to the instruction. Is it focused on technique and quality of movement? Or is the instructor just yelling at you and pushing you mindlessly?

Safety First

It’s important to be mindful and pay attention to how you feel during and after class. Are you experiencing pain or discomfort? Do you feel consistently discouraged or pushed beyond your reasonable limits? While it’s good to challenge yourself, there’s a fine line between a healthy challenge, and pushing yourself to the point of injury or burnout.

Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re training in a way that feels safe, and with people that encourage that. That’s why it’s worth shopping around for the style that fits you.

Built-In Continuity

If you find an instructor with whom you connect, with a good class size, training in a format you enjoy, and you feel safe in the environment, you’re off to a fantastic start. You stand to gain a lot just with those characteristics alone. But the next thing to really examine is continuity.

Does the class allow you to increase the challenge and variation as you improve in a movement. A class that takes this into account and is built around a central theme, goal, or plan will bring faster progress.

Find the Right Approach for You

As you can see, there are a lot of good reasons to train in a class setting, and they may be the right option for you. Just don’t let convenience be the only factor in your training choices. You want to make sure you’re putting your time, energy, and money into things that will help you toward your bigger picture goals.

If you want to give the classes at Eternally Fit a go, you can attend as many classes as you like in a week for 2 weeks (we have 9 classes per week) for $20. What a bargain! If that appeals to you, click here.

If you want to see what classes we offer in our ICE Program, click here instead.

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #9

Keep a Food and Exercise Diary

A good way to lose weight is to fill in a food and exercise diary every day. Make sure you base it around a strategic plan of healthy diet and regular daily exercise. Filling out a diary will help keep you honest and on track with your eating, drinking, and exercise habits.

Teresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef

On Monday 04 Jul 17 my day was:

Meal 1: Omelette with peas, capsicum, corn, cheese

Latte

Meal 2: Liquid Meal – Banana, Frozen Mango, Protein Powder, Flax Oil, Coconut Water

Pre-workout: 250ml Water, Gatorade Powder, Protein Powder
20 Minute Kettle Bell Workout
Post-workout: 250ml Water, Gatorade Powder, Protein Powder

Meal 3: 2 eggs, handful of grapes

Meal 4: Liquid Meal – Frozen Mango, Protein Powder, Flax Oil, Oats, Milk

Meal 5: Mandarin and some walnuts

Meal 6: Salmon, Stir Fried Garlic Broccolini, Corn, Quinoa.

Lots of water was consumed throughout the day too.

 

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #8

Go Mediterranean

Studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean-style diet are, on average, less affected by degenerative illness and disease. This is attributed mainly to the focus on fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, pasture-rasied meats and a generous amount of good heart-healthy fats coming from nuts and olives.

Consequently, traditional Mediterranean diets are low in what I call ‘the terrible three’ – saturated fats, trans fats, and refined sugar – that are so typical of the Western-style diet followed in countries such as Australia and the United States. Instead, Mediterranean diets are rich in good heart-healthy unsaturated fat and fibre, nutrients and phyto-chemicals that support good health and wellbeing.

The dietary pattern is also accompanied by lots of physical activity and incidental exercise such as walking to work instead of catching the bus, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The Mediterranean lifestyle also tends not to include and inter-meal snacking, and there’s an emphasis on reduced portion sizes and not over-eating at mealtimes.

Theresa Cutter – ‘The Healthy Chef’

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #7

Learn How to Cook Healthy

Healthy eating and weight loss all starts in the kitchen. Just by make in a few simple changes to the ingredients you choose, how you cook them, and your protein size, you can make improvement to your health and wellbeing that last a lifetime.

The best cooking methods are steaming, roasting, baking, sautéing, and stir-frying. Avoid anything deep fried. Use anti-inflammatory/mono-unsaturated heat-healthy olds that can help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol when used in place of saturated fats. Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, and avocado oil are good staples. For making cakes or desserts, macadamia nut oil, cod-pressed extra virgin coconut oil, olive oil, and almond oil are great. Walnut, chia, hemp, and flaxseed (linseed) oils are good on salads and over vegetables, but they’re fragile so store them away from light in the fridge and don’t heat them. Use herbs and spices in place of extra salt, avocado in place of butter, and substitute all your white staples such as bread and pasta with whole food variety.

Buy quality. You get what you pay for, no mater what you’re buying, and a little of the good stuff can go a long way if you know tricks to making it stretch further. Make protein sources suck as lean, grass-fed or organic beef go further by combing them with foods like beans and plenty of veggies, such as in a chilli con carne or bolognese Less expensive cuts make for delicious stews or soups. Padding out meats wiht vegetables and pules is healthier than using cheap refined carbohydrates, which is the norm in most processed foods.

All chefs and cooks everywhere have the power to change the health of our society. We can be a part of the solution by choosing better quality ingredients, ditching preservatives and trans fats, and designing healthier menus. The choices we make shape the choices we have.

(Theresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef)

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #6

Let Food Be Your Medicine

Think of your body as a high-performance sports car, a top of the line machine that needs the right fuel to function at an optimal level. If we don’t put the right fuel into our machine, it will eventually start to break down. We eat to receive energy and nutrients, to support growth and repair, and to protect our immune system from the risk of disease.

In Australia in 2009 there were a total of 1043 deaths where obesity was identified as the underlying cause of death. In the USA, an estimated 300,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity. How did this happen? Over the last 30 years how we eat has changed – we are eating more meals away from home (particularly fast ‘food’); we eat larger portions; we drink more sweetened beverages; we eat more energy-dense, nutrient-poor processed food. All of which leads to an increased risk of poor health and chronic disease in both adults and children. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the most common disease associated with diet are diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and cancer.

A good diet (no, not one of those “I’m going on a diet to lose 10 Kg” diet which has a set time to it, but a “This is how I fuel the most precious machine I have” diet) plays a vital role in supporting our health, which is why it is so important to think about what you put into your mouth every time you eat and drink. Is what you are consuming making a positive or negative difference to your body? Have you just ‘blown’ that last Metafit class with that one mouthful?

Food is the most powerful preventative medicine we have to treat chronic disease and fight the obesity battle.

(The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was the founding father of natural medicine. He believed in good food and attributed the cause of many ailments to poor nutrition and bad eating habits).

(Theresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef)

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #5

Shop Smart

Buy seasonal, locally grown fruit and vegetables as they are nutritionally better and for your health and often less expensive. Shop at farmers’ markets, join a fresh food co-op or grow your own. When in supermarkets, shop around the outside perimeter for the fresh produce. Also when shopping in the middle aisles remember to look both high and low as this is where you’ll normally find the quality and less expensive products. Most of the food in the middle aisles are more expensive as food manufacturers have paid big bucks for premium space.

Read food labels! Just because the box says it is healthy, gluten free, or low fat, that doesn’t mean it is good for you. ‘Green-wash’ is a term used to describe when manufacturers cash in on the health angle, marketing themselves as healthy when they actually are not. Check out the ingredients list. Many so-called diet or health foods are high in sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fat), corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, salt, preservatives, gums, and fillers that do very little to nourish the body.

(Theresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef)

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #4

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #3

Get to Know Your Hormones

Insulin, leptin, and ghrelin are the three major hormones that have a huge impact on your ability to lose weight and keep it off. Weight loss causes changes in appetite and energy expenditure that can often promote weight regain. By understanding how these three hormones carry out functions in your body, you will have a much greater chance of controlling them and staying lean and healthy throughout life.

Insulin

Insulin is an anabolic hormone released by the pancreas when glucose enters the bloodstream that increases storage of fat, protein, and glucose. Elevated and excess insulin in the body can stop you from burning fat, so if your goal is weight loss you need to keep insulin levels steady so that your body is able to burn fat effectively. A diet high in simple sugars and refined carbs can elevate insulin levels very quickly.

Leptin

Leptin is a hormone that assists in regulating both appetite and metabolism. It’s manufactured in the fat cells and its primary function is to act on the part of the brain that controls appetite and the feeling of fullness. Many overweight people may have developed leptin resistance. Lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep and eating the right foods can help to lower serum leptin levels.

Ghrelin

Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite. It is secreted by the stomach. Like leptin, it acts on that part of the brain that controls appetite, but it increases the appetite rather than decreases it (as leptin does). One of the main reasons people put back on lost weight after a diet is because gherkin levels increase significantly after a diet, resulting in uncontrollable hunger.

What to Do

  1. Avoid sugar, saturated fats and refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, white potato, cakes, parties, etc).
  2. Consume an anti-inflammatory diet that consists mainly of good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, quality protein, and plenty of fresh vegetables (have a look at harvesthub.com.au).
  3. Exercise daily.
(Theresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef)

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #2

101 Ways to Lose Weight – #1

Change Your Habits

Our habits create our life. If you want to lose weight and get into shape, you have to develop the habits of a fit and healthy person. Studies show it takes about 21 days to change a habit.

Be realistic and clear on what those needs are, set your goals, and build to achieve them. Take small steps and choose one new habit each week to implement into your daily life. Simple examples include drinking mineral water instead of alcohol when out with friends, swapping sugary breakfast cereal for wholegrain porridge, or riding your pushbike to work instead of driving your car.

The key to successfully changing your habits to healthy ones is to substitute alternative behaviours that also satisfy your needs. Once the new habit is ingrained, the new behaviour pattern becomes easy and automatic.

(Theresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef).