Safety In Numbers

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

As they say, there’s safety in numbers. We generally feel more secure in a crowd, particularly a like-minded crowd. And that’s never more evident than in the growth and prevalence of fitness classes. There are a lot of them, and a startling variety on offer, but are they useful, are they worth the hype, are they right for you?

We’ll start with the negatives, so I can leave you with the positives. First off, the word to focus on is ‘numbers.’ If you’re in a class with a number of people, and I’ve seen many classes with 25+ people in them, how much attention can any instructor really be paying to what you’re doing and how you’re doing it? And the nature of a lot of these classes is circuit based, so there are various different exercises, of differing skill levels. And there can be some pretty technical or advanced exercises thrown in there. If the instructor is unable to focus on individuals, what if you’re doing it incorrectly? You could end up injured, out of action, and discouraged from future fitness. And training normally isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of thing, most people are at different levels of ability, or looking to achieve different things, or in need of certain considerations.

There are more mental negatives you might be confronted with too, like the exposure of working out in front of other people. This could cause you to avoid pushing yourself, so as not to risk making a mistake, looking sweaty or unfit, or just because you’re nervous, so you won’t end up getting the most out of it. Or worse, cause you to quit, because that environment makes you feel too vulnerable, or you’re not achieving what some other people in the group are. However, there’s also the opposite, whereby your competitiveness encourages you to push yourself too far, just to keep up with others, or to try and be the best in the class. This could lead to some unhealthy fitness or nutritional habits. You have to try and understand that you’re an individual, and not to measure yourself against other people around you.

Now for the positives. It’s often cheaper than most alternatives, like personal training. So, it’s a great way to work with someone qualified to help you, without burning a hole in your pocket. And a good instructor should fill you with confidence, and inspire you to improve yourself. You may also feel less pressure, less exposed working within a group. It’s not just you, alone, in the middle of the room, with all eyes on you. Plus, it can be a useful way to introduce yourself to new equipment or exercises that you might not have experienced before. Add to all that that there’s usually a great community spirit at these classes. Most people are really friendly, welcoming, and understanding, because they are or have been where you are. It can be a fantastic social outlet for you, you can meet some life-long friends, but more importantly that social aspect and safety will hopefully encourage you to keep going back.

Whether group training is right for you is entirely subjective. It might be Heaven; it might be Hell. I guess you won’t know until you give it a try. I suspect that if you reach an advanced level, or it gets you really into fitness, you’ll want to move on to do your own thing, and challenge your body more, but it can be a great, and hopefully safe, starting point for most people. Enjoy your training, and I’ll see you next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer