Group exercise classes latest step in evolution of fun fitness

In 1980, aerobics was introduced into health clubs in a class style format. It’s best remembered by the dress code: leotards, brightly colored tights and leg warmers. This fashion statement was complimented by feathered hair styles and high-top tennis shoes.

More specialized aerobics classes made their way into the scene by 1990, including step aerobics, water aerobics, spinning and male participants. Eventually, the word “aerobics” was replaced by “group exercise” to allow for more class options.

What does group exercise look like in the 21st century? Variety and fun are at the top of list. There seems to be a class for everything and certainly for everyone. Take your pick.

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the top fitness trends for 2011 include such group exercise classes as Zumba, an easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness workout; TRX suspension training, an innovative system of straps that allows you to use your own body weight as leverage for a completely different kind of workout; and boot camps, high-intensity strength and cardio exercises that challenge your strength and endurance while burning calories. These workouts move quickly, allowing little or no rest between exercises.

Group exercise today allows you to choose from a huge variety of classes. Everything from Step to Water; Yoga to BodyPump® and Pilates to Spinning®! There are classes for youth sports to senior strength & balance. Classes are filled not only with women anymore, but also many men who have come to enjoy the benefits of group exercise.

Another change in group exercise classes is the introduction of the combination classes. BodyFlow® for example, combines tai chi, yoga & Pilates disciplines into one class. Other combinations include a class of part Spinning® and part yoga.

Instructors also have had to change along with the changing trends. They are performance stars! They get on stage and perform. Not only do they go through training to become certified, but they also have to stay up on their certification through training credits.

Some classes are freestyle, which allows the instructor to come up with their own moves, music and class structure. With other choreographed classes, such as Les Mills, a new “routine” with different movements and new music must be purchased, learned and practiced every three months before instructors are are ready to go on stage!

There are many benefits to working out through group exercise fitness programs:

  • You just show up. The instructor will take care of the rest. They will provide instruction, equipment, music and motivation.
  • It’s a learning and education session. As you work out, you’ll learn what muscles you’re working, how to take your heart rate and why form is important
  • Doing anything in a group is motivational. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Begin going to a class regularly and meet people. You’ll begin to hold each other accountable to your workouts.
  • You’ll get a better workout. Most people will enjoy the benefits of a great workout. It’s hard to push yourself on your own, so try a class where the instructor encourages you.

Group exercise has evolved from a high-impact, dance format to a wide range of activities for women and men. As the fitness world continues to make its mark on the importance of exercise, health clubs will continue to follow trends that match their members’ lifestyles and health issues. Most of all, clubs make exercise fun.