As a regular gym member, you would have likely come across some form of group exercise – a studio full of down-facing dogs or a loud and lively BODYPUMP class. Tanya Walker, head trainer for Les Mills BODYCOMBAT, and instructor for RPM and BODYATTACK, says the benefits can be even better than just going to the gym alone.
“Overall, it’s proven to get results. If you’re working out to music in a group environment then you get what we call performance reciprocity, where you tend to work harder in a group dynamic than individually, due to naturally competitive behaviour. Les Mills, in particular, is an international programme which is tried and tested,” says Walker.
As well as burning calories, there are many other benefits such as being able to pick and choose a class depending on what you want your fitness gains to be. Walker says, “There are such a large variety of classes – you can work on cardiovascular fitness, calorie burning, resistance work, and with programmes such as BODYPUMP you can shape, chisel and tone your body or help to increase your metabolic rate.”
And, much like The X Factor, it’s all about the music. “Music helps to drive the workout and pushes participants to work harder,” comments Walker. “It brings out their competitive spirit, plus the social interaction among participants creates a community.”
If a lively class is not for you, there is also, of course, the mind/body side of group fitness. Yoga can be a good calming session to work on balance and flexibility, while Pilates may be more up your street if you’re interested in building or maintaining strength or core work (or BODYBALANCE which includes both). Walker adds that for those who prefer something quieter, “Small group training, outdoor or core training – some of which are only half-hour sessions – and TRX are becoming more popular."
“Group exercise is also very accessible as every instructor is able to tailor it to different needs. It’s important to work together as the demographics can be a real mix – from the unfit to the hard-core exerciser.”
How do you know if your instructor is any good? Well, as Walker says, if you do choose to opt for a Les Mills favourite – BODYATTACK, BODYBALANCE, BODYCOMBAT, BODYJAM, BODYPUMP, BODYSTEP, BODYVIVE or RPM – you are guaranteed to have an instructor with a specific certification that is updated at every Quarterly Workshop, which is not necessarily the same with freestyle instructors. However, asking other members for recommendations or trying out a class is the best way to start.
Although some community-based centres offer these sessions on pay-as-you-go, most gym memberships are inclusive of classes in their monthly fee. So, at no extra expense, it is well worth giving it a go.
Find a Les Mills class near you.
Classes to watch out for:
One day showcase Fusion
Les Mills’ new offering CXWORX
Fitness classes for KidzMove