So you’ve signed up for a gym membership, or you’re thinking about it. Maybe you already love your membership and go three times a week, but you’re wondering how to get the most benefit. Should you be hitting the gym alone, or doing group fitness classes?
Group fitness classes
Most YMCA facilities across Victoria offer group fitness classes - these can range from aqua aerobics to yoga to cardio tennis. There is something at your local centre to fit most interests and abilities, so what are the benefits of attending a group fitness class?
A research project last year* showed that medical students who attended group fitness classes for 12 weeks reported a 26% decrease in their stress levels. They also had a 13% increase in mental performance, 25% increase in physical health and 26% increase in emotional health over the study period. These are amazing gains and the study only required the students to do a minimum of one 30 minute group fitness class a week.
There’s another great plus in favour of group classes. If you’re someone who lacks motivation, attending group fitness means that you have to exercise at the same pace as everyone else for the whole class - you can’t slack off.
Individual session in the gym
According to the same research project, students who exercised alone in an activity like running or lifting weights worked out for twice as long on average as the group fitness participants. They reported an 11% increase in mental performance but no increase in quality of life or stress reduction.
Working out alone has other benefits in the form of flexibility - your local group class timetable might not fit into your schedule and going for a solo swim, run or weights session whenever you have time can be much more convenient. You might be training toward a particular goal and need a personalised workout for that, in which case a group fitness class may not fit your needs.
Group fitness vs a session in the gym. Which one wins?
For quality of life, stress reduction and social benefits, group fitness classes give you the most help. But that doesn’t mean that you should stop working out solo. There’s plenty of benefits there too! At the end of the day, any exercise is good exercise and you will feel happier and healthier if you include physical activity in your weekly routine.
YMCA Victoria is a proud partner of Premier’s Active April. Register for free anytime during the month of April and aim for 30 minutes activity a day. When you register, you’ll receive a 10 Visit Pass Card for your local YMCA Centre to use over the month.
*Research by the American Osteopathic Association