Group exercise is typically described as exercise performed by a group of individuals led by an instructor. There are a wide range of group exercise classes available and many can be found with a simple web search. Studies have shown that group exercise is much more effective than going to the gym and working out alone. Could this be true? Could working out in a group setting be more effective and provide better results? We decided to take a look at this study and see why group exercise is being hailed as the best way to get in shape or lose weight.
Group exercise offers exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effectively designed workout, a consistent exercise schedule, an accountability factor for participating in exercise, and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.
- Group exercise keeps you interested in the workout and helps to avoid the boredom of working out alone. It also offers camaraderie and accountability among participants, as well as between the participants and the instructor.
- Group exercise shows you what to do and what not to do. Most people avoid going to the gym because they don’t understand the machines or they don’t know what they should be doing. Group exercise offers a workout for all levels, ranging from beginner to advanced and you don’t have to have any experience at all.
- Group exercise offers structure, something many people new to the gym want. Group exercise classes often follow a particular structure which includes a warm-up, workout and a cool down period. People who work out alone don’t often follow these steps and they end up getting injured.
- Group exercise classes offer consistency in scheduling and are perfect for those on a time constraint. Many classes last 30 to 45 minutes and offer a full body workout.
- Group exercise offers diversity. From boot camps at a local park or yoga on the beach, to trekking on the bike trails or fun fitness classes for seniors, group exercise offers people a chance to try new things and get in shape with others in a social setting.
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There are loads of reasons you should include Pilates in your weekly routine, but let’s begin with this short list.
- Pilates is a full-body exercise. It focuses on the core while training the entire body as an integrated system. The workouts include ones that improve strength and balanced muscle development, flexibility and increased range of motion.
- Pilates sessions are tailored to individual needs. Pilates is for everyone, including elite athletes, the injured, seniors, pregnant women and everyone in-between. There are literally hundreds of exercises and modifications for each client.
- It lengthens the spine and improves posture. Poor posture creates a string of structural changes throughout the body that can cause pain and imbalance in the shoulders, neck and head as well as a tilt of the pelvis or a shift of the hips adding pressure to muscles and joints. This, in turn, may cause migraines, neck, lower back, hip, knee and foot pain. For example, if the head is tilted forward 20 degrees it is forced to bear twice the weight than if it were vertical. Pilates targets the deep postural muscles creating a strong, aligned core from which to move.
- Pilates heals and prevents back injuries. Dr. Vijay Vad, sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, states that in a recent study of patients with back pain, the participants that included Pilates in their exercise routine saw ”dramatic improvement” compared with those taking only pain medication. Doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists recommend Pilates exercise for most back pain. “Lasting improvements come with regular exercises that stretch and lengthen the spine, loosen up tight hip muscles and strengthen the abdominals, “ says Dr. Daniel Mazanec, Medical Director of the Cleveland Spine Institute.
- Muscular balance. For example, the golfer will repeatedly bend over a ball and twist in one direction. This overuse of the same muscles creates imbalance in the shoulders, neck, hips and feet, but the most vulnerable is the lumbar spine (low back). Pilates works to restore the balance and re align the body.
- Core strength. If the trunk of a tree is not strong, what use are its limbs? We can train our arms and legs to be strong with weight training, but in Pilates you are never working just one muscle. Why not get more results in less time? Train your center while stretching and strengthening other muscles. This is called functional fitness.
- Weight loss, really! If you practice Pilates regularly, you will change your body. Pilates creates long, lean, strong muscles. Just because it is low-impact does not mean it is easy. Once you have the routine down, expect to work up a light sweat. The formula for weight loss remains the same: burn more calories than you consume. Because Pilates is a full-body exercise, it will help you do just that!
- Breath efficiently. Pilates will increase your lung capacity and your ribs will move more freely.
- Mind and body connection. Joseph Pilates was insistent that Pilates was about “the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit”. Pilates practice gives complete attention to each movement by instructing the brain to release tension, center oneself, control movement and breath with precision and flow.
- Improves balance and circulation. Strengthening the core and working one limb at a time will improve balance. The classic “Pilates Hundred” exercise is meant to get the blood circulating and act like a “rain shower” inside your body.
Try Pilates today! As Joseph Pilates once said, “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 2 you will see the difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body.”