Strength in Numbers
Why do so many people avoid regular exercise when the benefits are so hard to ignore? Whether it’s improving your mood, controlling your weight, preventing disease, recovering from injury, or increasing your energy, exercise is just plain good for you. However, many people lack the motivation to be consistent with workouts over time; others find it difficult to build it into their busy schedule; and some just find it too boring.
In order to be successful with any lifestyle change or rehabilitation program, it is important to remove potential barriers; and a great way to overcome these is through group exercise. Group exercise, especially when done in a therapeutic setting, can help make regular exercise a more achievable goal:
- It’s Social
- It’s Motivating
- It’s a Great Workout
- It Makes You Accountable
After an injury, whether it be orthopedic or neurological in nature, it is easy to feel isolated. This can be due to any number of reasons, including limited physical mobility, difficulty participating in activities due to pain, or taking time off of work. In a group exercise setting, you’re surrounded by people who have the same or similar injuries, which allows you to bond with others and share your experiences. This helps expand your social support system, which can be very important for your mental health after an injury.
Exercising next to a group of people that you feel comfortable around and are supportive of your success can be extremely encouraging. It motivates you to work your hardest and put forth your best effort every single class. It may even spark some friendly competition, and when executed properly with the instructor present to ensure safety, can be fun and very motivating.
When people perform exercises on their own, it’s very common for them to skip exercises they don’t enjoy performing or are unsure if they are performing correctly. In a small group class setting, the instructor will tailor the class program to include the most beneficial and relevant exercises for the specific group, and provide supervision at all times to ensure each participant is using proper form and technique. In this way, they will get to enjoy a great work out that is safe, fun, and effective.
Have you ever thought to yourself “I know I should go to the gym today but…” or, “I know I should be doing my Physiotherapy exercises but…”. The majority of people participating in physiotherapy have an understanding of the benefit of performing their prescribed exercises on a regular basis, but have a hard time setting aside the time or finding the drive to do so. Being a part of a group exercise class is a great way to increase internal drive to exercise. You become accountable to your classmates and class instructor as well as yourself to show up each week and participate. Consistent support from your peers and increased incentive to exercise allows you to play a more active role in your rehabilitation.
One of the many reasons I became a Physiotherapist was because of my love for exercise. I have been a group fitness instructor for many years, and have taught a variety of classes including weight training, high intensity interval training and cardio kickboxing. Throughout my career in physiotherapy, I have learned that the concept of group exercise should not be restricted to a gym setting, but can easily be incorporated into therapeutic exercise treatment as well.