You already know that exercise offers a huge list of health benefits, from improved mood to stronger bones and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. But while exercise, in general, is hugely beneficial, there’s one type of exercise that can offer additional benefits—and that’s working out with a group of other people.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of joining a fitness group, as well as tips on how to find the right fitness group for you.
Why join a fitness group?
On top of all the benefits you’ll enjoy from working up a good sweat, joining a fitness group or group fitness class offers a few additional benefits, both for your health and your social life.
Group fitness classes can help with motivation. A lot of people struggle with finding the motivation to work out on a regular basis. But for some, working out with a group can be just the motivation they need to commit to their fitness.
“Many people find that working out with a group can be a stronger source of motivation than exercising alone,” says psychologist and wellness coach John O’Brien.
Joining a fitness group adds a layer of accountability—and for many people, that accountability acts as motivation. For example, it’s easy to hit the “snooze” button on your 6AM alarm when you’re planning on going on a solo run—but knowing that your running group is waiting for you to start can deliver the dose of motivation you need to get out of bed, lace up your shoes, and get going.
Group fitness can inspire you to work harder—and get a better workout. When you’re working out by yourself, it can be easy to slack off (who’s going to know?). But when you’re working out with other people, “you have others there to encourage you and push you,” says personal trainer and running coach Meghan Kennihan. This can help you get a better workout.
Working out with others can also infuse your workout with a competitive spirit, which can also help to improve your workouts. “People who exercise with others can also use the group as a source of healthy competition,” says O’Brien.
“When people have others to compete against, they naturally begin to work harder,” says Katie Pierson, an experienced group fitness instructor and lead editor for GirlBikeLove. “They naturally want to keep up with the other people in the class.”
Group fitness can help you form social connections. One of the biggest benefits of joining a fitness group is the social benefit. When you see people regularly, it’s only natural to get friendly with those people. “If participants attend a class [or group] regularly, they…naturally begin to form bonds with the other students who come to that class every week,” says Pierson.
And because you’re all working towards a common interest or have a common goal (for example, you all signed up for a kickboxing class or are training together for a triathlon), it fosters a sense of community—which can make for stronger social bonds.
“[Joining a fitness group] makes you part of a community where you can find support and guidance from people who are on the same journey as you,” says Kennihan.
How to find the right fitness group for you
Tap local gyms and fitness studios. Local gyms and fitness studios are a great way to tap into your local community and find group classes and/or groups that align with your interests and fitness goals.
“Joining a gym or studio close to your house increases the chance of you going,” says Pierson. “Also, you meet people who live near you, which can foster relationships outside of the gym.”
Use different digital platforms to see what works for you. Online forums and social media are great resources for finding fitness groups. Try joining—and introducing yourself—on the Fitbit Community forum to share about your fitness goals, healthy habits, and which Fitbit device you’re currently using to meet those goals. You can join or create groups to make and cheer friends on, and stay motivated together!
You can also try sites like Meetup.com, where you can find “fitness meetups where you can join based on your interests and age level,” says Pierson.
Searching Facebook Groups is another option, or using more localized social media platforms like NextDoor to find a local fitness group that suits your needs.
And if you don’t find one that matches what you’re looking for? Consider putting yourself out there and posting on social media to start a group of your own!
Don’t be afraid to try new things. In a perfect world, the first fitness group or class you try would be the perfect fitness group or class for you. But the truth is, sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error.
Be willing to put yourself out there and try new things. Experiment with different types of fitness classes (for example, kickboxing, yoga, and strength classes) and groups (for example, a running group and a strength-training meetup) until you find a place where both the activity and the people feel like a good fit.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.