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3 Reasons Why Group Exercise is the #1 “Energy Drink” to Fuel Whole Health

Group fitness and physical activity is the “magic juice” that will help people truly make lifelong health goals and positive changes a top priority in their lives.

WAY better than any energy drink.

Not to mention….TOTALLY organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free.

When people move their bodies with a group, they connect more deeply with their internal wellness motivations, transform their well-being, and access the “juice” to fuel a lifelong health revolution.

“To be kept in solitude is to be kept in pain and put on the road to madness.  A person’s membership in his group—his tribe—is a large part of his identity.” -E.O. Wilson (sociobiologist)

Here are 3 Reasons why Group Exercise is a #1 Top-Shelf Organic “Energy Drink” to Fuel People Towards Whole Health:

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#1- Sense of Community & Connection with a Commonality

This is really beginning to be highlighted in some of more latest group fitness fads such as Crossfit, SoulCycle, and others who are capitalizing on and fostering deeper connections within and around the group exercise itself.  Modern western culture has become very independent-minded, and not only does the research show that people NEED social connections, but people are craving them.

“Man is by nature a social animal … Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.” -Aristotle

Social connections are as important to our survival and flourishing as the need for food, safety, and shelter. But over the last fifty years, while society has been growing more and more prosperous and individualistic, our social connections have been dissolving. (We participate in community and group exercise less?)  We are increasingly denying our social nature, and paying a price for it. Over the same period of time that social isolation has increased, our levels of happiness have gone down, while rates of suicide and depression have multiplied.  (Social Connection Makes a Better Brain, 2013)

When thinking about the difference between a person attempting to exercise on their own, or even in a gym surrounded by people, both of those things are great yet most often don’t pack the “juice” and “umph” that a group exercise experience offers around an opportunity to create connection.

A study on the quality of relationships found that to avoid loneliness, people needed only one close relationship coupled with a network of other relationships. To form a close relationship required a growing amount of “self-disclosure,” or a willingness to reveal ones personal issues and feelings, and without it people with friends would still be lonely (Jackson, Soderlind & Weiss, 2000).  (Pursuit of Happiness article, 2015)

Group exercise classes offer a more consistent opportunity for deeper connection and community-building to take place.  The research shows that it isn’t about the quantity of relationships, but the quality of relationships in order to feel that sense of true connection.  

I wonder in what ways we might begin to shift towards cultivating more connection in a fitness class and not miss this opportunity?  

How might we to facilitate this key component and stand apart factor that makes group exercise the top “energy drink” to fire up people towards greater health and wellness…?!

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#2- The Happiness Inducing Factor & the Science of Happiness

Thanks to the new and growing science of happiness, relationships and connection are considered one of the seven keys to happiness!  In addition, exercise is also considered one of the keys to happiness.

Some researchers argue that exercise may act as a diversion from negative thoughts, and the mastery of a new skill may be important. There is evidence to indicate that social contact between people who are working out or involved in sports may be an important source of satisfaction as well. Still others think that physical activity causes the brain to release chemicals called endorphins that cause one to feel good after exercising. The vast majority of studies have shown that there is a significant association between exercise and improved well-being. (Pursuit of Happiness article, 2015)

So one could argue that not only doing physical activity, but participating in exercise with a group, only increases the amount of happiness potential and mood-boosting “juice” even better than a shot of B-vitamins, ginseng, and caffeine!  

Happiness is health baby, and can’t be bought in a bottle, but CAN be found in CONNECTING with others during some group physical activity!

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#3- Natural Accountability & the Power of Synchronized Physical Activity with a “Tribe”

Accountability is most widely accepted as a key component to creating long term, sustainable health changes, making health coaches, personal trainers, and group fitness classes a popular choice for those who report success.  In many cases, I find that not only is a group exercise class a more cost-effective option, but has a natural sort of “built-in” accountability.

As kids, we loved to get together to play with our friends. As teenagers, our world revolved around our friends; oftentimes, our friends dictated our choice of activities. As adults, we still enjoy being active with friends, but don’t always feel like we have the time or opportunities to do so. Group exercise provides us with an opportunity to feel young again and be physically active with others. Group exercise offers a variety of benefits you might miss out on if you choose to work out on your own. Some of the benefits include exposure to a social and fun environment, a safe and effectively designed workout, a consistent exercise schedule, an accountability factor for participating in exercise, and a workout that requires no prior exercise knowledge or experience.  (Benefits of Group Exercise, 2012)

Being around others energy can have a spillover effect to help increase motivation for physical activity and propel perhaps a more intense energy into the physical activity itself!

Patient information published in 2005 in the Journal of American Academy of Physician Assistants also recommends that people exercise with a partner or group because they “are more likely to stay on track.” You’re more likely to complete a well-rounded exercise routine and get a potentially tougher workout. A class can help you move past a plateau — if you want to push yourself a little bit and improve. Other exercisers who might be in better shape than you can help create what is called a vicarious experience to motivate you. Exercising with others can make you want to be your best and achieve better fitness and overall health. (Fitness Team Exercise Group Track, Bonfire Health, 2011)

A recent study looked at how synchronization during group exercise versus exercise on your own INCREASES and DOUBLES the endorphin response, aka “runner’s high”, while doing the same exact physical activity. One of the triggers is thought to be the power of having both shared ultimate and proximate goals, such as accomplishing a month long class attendance challenge (ultimate goal) and endeavoring to accomplish movements in synch during the class itself (proximate goal).  

Now granted, endorphins are produced by any physical activity, but effects seem to dramatically increase when done with a group.

Consider the similarities between a modern exercise class and an ancient religious rite – the wise leader guiding the group through a series of ritualized movements, in perfect synchronization. New research suggests that group exercise unleashes a flood of chemicals in the brain, triggering the same responses that have made collective activities from dancing and laughter to religion itself such enduring aspects of human culture.  (Is Group Exercise Better than Working Out Solo, Hutchinson, 2010)

Also, this study reports that building cohesion and a sense of groupness (tribe) within a fitness class, whether perceived or real, seems to be a key for increasing retention, punctuality, and motivation to work harder in the class, another possible trigger that increases the endorphin response. 

When considering that most fitness classes have moved from sign-up classes/commitment of sessions to drop-in classes, how might fitness entrepreneurs begin to reframe their classes so as to truly build a tribe and maximize the accountability, connection, and therefore increase the level of happiness achieved from one class?

Regardless…clearly these Reasons PACK THE JUICE Behind Why Group Exercise has the potential to be #1 “Energy Drink” to Fuel People Towards Whole Health and Wellness with all this good stuff – natural accountability, connection, tribe-building, synchronization and exercise inducing endorphins, all increasing the level of happiness based on science…..SOOOOO……

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Come on.

Forget the synthetic energy drinks.

Grab the Group Exercise kool-aid.

Take a taste of the yummy juiciness that Group Exercise offers to FUEL WHOLE HEALTH in individuals, our communities, and around the world.

Please share this article with aspiring/current fitness participants OR aspiring/current group fitness pros…let’s spread the message about the potential power of this healthy energy “juice” so that we can increase the numerous potential positive outcomes that Group Exercise has to offer!

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