I have always been skeptical of group exercise. I would always imagine a room full of people in leotards and spandex bouncing around in a unison you only see in synchronized swimming. The whole idea of exercising together with a random group of people at a prescribed time just seemed wearying. I was content with my hour-a-day, three day a week regiment at the gym. A little cardio a little strength and back to my increasingly complex world. Then life happened, thankfully.
I had the opportunity to join a new team professionally, this time in the fitness world. As I prepared for my new role, I begrudgingly began taking various group classes…which I soon found out are not my mom’s group classes. Whether it was cycling, kickboxing, barre or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), I nervously watched classes from the outside knowing I was up next. Even though I was familiar with the leg press or back extender machines at the gym, this new equipment looked like I was training to be on American Ninja Warrior. I wasn’t sure I could actually get through a workout without hurting myself or someone else. And of course the heart rate monitor that shows the world how hard you are working, or dying as the case may be, added to the intimidation.
As it turns out I loved group HIIT circuits! Not only do I love the motivating coaching from the trainers, but the support I get from other people in the class. It is great to be a new person and work through the circuits, receiving encouragement and motivation along the way. At places like FIT36®, I have my individual workout space for each exercise but I also have a partner to exchange the knowing glance with as we wrap up a minute of squat jacks. I have so much fun learning and watching how everyday movements create a leaner, stronger me. Plus, the well-designed classes provide the structured training I crave. And when the classes change every few weeks, I look forward to the change. Change that keeps me challenged, engaged and gives me something new to conquer. No matter the exercise, I always feel safe. The trainers help me to modify the movements easily for my current fitness level (or in my case a mental block from a hurdles mishap in high school track). I still work hard on the boxes, just with a stepping program recommended by a trainer.
The best part is... I never realize just how hard I am working until the end when I look up to see my performance on display for the world to see. And instead of being embarrassed or ashamed, I realize my performance looks similar to the other faces in the group and it was better than last week. It is always encouraging. I feel at home.
As I continued spending more time in the HIIT world, I quickly found a sense that I can only describe as self-aware group accountability. I continue to drive myself to show up and push myself harder to enjoy a better me in the company of like-minded individuals. I enjoy it so much, I keep trying to convert my husband as well and one day I will. I would encourage everyone to try the new world of group exercises.
Throw away the leotard and join just one class. Don’t be surprised if you see me smiling back at you.