Improved Mental and Physical Health by Doing Group Fitness
This individual essay combines a variety of studies and my own experiences with group fitness and effect it has on overall wellbeing and mental health. I truly advice to read it and maybe start a convey about thoughts it evokes. In the end, everyone of us thinks, acts and reacts on a different way and level. I recommend this essay to everyone that’s interested in Group Fitness and improving their overall health and wellbeing.
I’ve been instructing group fitness for a little over two years now. My weekly routine consists of different kind of Group Fitness classes. Every week I have and teach four LES MILLS BODYPUMP™ classes (one-hour muscle strength training), two LES MILLS GRIT™ classes [30-minutes High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)] and two LES MILLS THE TRIP™ classes (40-minutes HIIT). Those classes alone are a great deal of work and intensive training for a week alone. In addition, I try to do at least one maximum strength training every week to hit different type of training and stimuli for my muscles. Does that sound like a lot? It sure does, and I realize that too right now when I’m writing this essay.
Last autumn I had a Repetitive Strain Injury on my right knee. It was not too serious of an injury but a really painful one. It took around one month to relieve the pain to zero. That RSI made me think: while all this workload I take on my muscles is effective and great, there’s no way I can continue doing it weekly without a proper body conditioning. Around that time I got a chance to participate in LES MILLS BODYBALANCE™ (one-hour combination of Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi) Initial Training to become an instructor on that program too. My previous programs were kind of intensive physically and from the style on how to instruct them. So I thought, now’s the time for something different.
The Initial Training passed and I had broadened my point of view about body conditioning and training. The two intensive training days and my own training afterwards made my body feel SO relieved. For example my hip joints have never been better. Although the IT itself felt awful for my already tight hip joints, it was worth the pain. Now I try to do a BODYBALANCE™ myself at least once a week since I’m not teaching it regularly yet. It’s good for your joints, muscles and when properly performed your respiratory system as well.
I’d say my training is quite versatile. I train muscle strength, somewhat maximum muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness a lot as listed more specifically above. I can say without any hesitation that right now I’m truly feeling healthy both mentally and physically. Physically because of all kind of different training I do. That adds to the mental side too. I stay in shape and I feel great physically. Mentally I feel the same because the training that I do is exactly to my liking and it also brings the sociability along too.
More complicated issue is the mental health. I’d say that just like the physical health, mental one is also a combination of different things. Those things are the benefits of physical and social activities. And as the physical health affects your mental, it also goes the other way around. For example, Group Fitness is a great way to improve your social and physical health both at the same time. And if that’s what works for you, congrats! You’re improving your mental health too.
There are several studies concerning the “Groupness” effect. They show that the more intense the class is and the more ‘on the beat’ it goes, the better the effect on group will be. When training gets tough, we tend to go easier. But when the group is there doing the same thing, you are more likely to continue even when fatigued. And when we go on the beat with the music and instructor makes it easy to follow, the group effect enhances thanks to group’s synchronized movement patterns. (Hastings & co. 2019. Effects of Group Fitness Classes on Stress and Quality of Life of Medical Students.)
In 2017, there was conducted a small-ish study on medical students in order to investigate the relationship between physical exercise, stress and quality of life. Sixty-nine participants took part in nonrandomized, controlled 12-week study. 25 of them participating in Group Fitness classes, 29 in health-enhancement group and 15 in control group. When compared to baseline, group fitness participants demonstrated decreased perceived stress, increased physical health, mental quality of life and emotional quality of life. Participants in other groups didn’t show statistically any significant difference on any if these parameters except for improved mental quality of life on health-enhancement group. (Dayna & co. 2017. Perceptions of groupness during fitness classes positively predict recalled perceptions of exertion, enjoyment, and affective valence: An intensive longitudinal investigation.)
In the end it’s all about YOUR own goals and what suits you best. There isn’t any one-for-all physical activity. If your goals are for example somewhere in power lifting and you get joy and all the other goodies from that, go for it. It’s individual. You might even enjoy training alone or in a certain kind of environment that serves only you. Why I’m rooting for Group Fitness is because as mentioned above, it gives you so much on so many areas of life in addition to improved physical health. Plus it’s trendy.