Welcome to The Next Level Physio!!! This is the first of many blog entries that will span numerous topics related to physical therapy, rehabilitation, exercise, coaching, diet, nutrition, supplements, and much more! Please know that I truly do not take for granted the fact that you are reading this blog post right now. It means the world to me that you are taking time out of your busy schedule to read this, so THANK YOU! 

I truly want to be your go-to resource for anything exercise, fitness, and rehab related! As a Doctor of Physical Therapy who has received his Cert-CMFA (certification in the clinical management of the fitness athlete), Crossfit Level 2 Trainer, and Certified Clinical Athlete Weightlifting Coach, there aren’t too many people out there who are as qualified as I am to discuss these topics in the context of physical therapy & rehab. My hope is to share my knowledge with all of you and bring you content that you can use to help overcome your own injuries and struggles!!

Given my love for exercise, and the mountains of clinical studies out there that support exercise as the best intervention to help improve markers of fitness, I thought an appropriate initial blog post would be to cover 5 reasons why you should participate in GROUP FITNESS classes! Full disclosure here, I am a CrossFit athlete myself, and have been participating in CrossFit for the past 10+ years. I truly believe CrossFit as a whole is the most robust and comprehensive fitness methodology out there and is the best way to improve your overall health, wellness, and fitness. The reasons I list below I have complied from my own experiences in working out in CrossFit classes at the gyms I treat at. Whether you do CrossFit, Orange Theory, F45, Alpha Training, whatever it is…let me tell you my top 5 reasons why I believe group fitness classes are so much better than working out by yourself…

Reason #1: You Don’t Have to Program your Own Workouts

Let’s face it…when you program your own workouts, you program the same thing for yourself at every workout. For guys, it usually consists of bicep curls, bench press, tricep pressdowns, lat pulldowns, sit-ups, and absolutely no leg exercises. For females, it’s usually running, that seated hip ab/adductor machine, and some super light dumbbell exercises because “I don’t want to get too bulky.” We’ve all been there. I sure as heck have been there. The above-mentioned exercises were all I did in my globogym days 10 years ago. When you program your own workouts, your workouts stay the exact same every time you go to the gym. There’s no variation, and this is NOT a strategy that will yield long-term improvements in physique and fitness. Joining in on group fitness classes is a great way to break this cycle and introduce new movements, rep schemes, and intensities into your workouts. The best part? These things will all be programmed for you so that you don’t have spend time figuring them out and programming them yourself.

Reason #2: Your Workouts Will be DIFFERENT Almost Every Time

Dovetailing off of reason #1…when you program your own workouts, they tend to stay the same. The human body is really good at adapting to the forces placed upon it. So when you perform the same workout over and over again, eventually your body gets used to it and it’s no longer beneficial to perform that same workout. If you start taking group fitness classes, though, chances are extremely high that your workouts will become much more varied. These varied workouts change up the stimulus being taken on by your body. These new, challenging, novel stimuli will allow for new muscle growth and adaptation to occur, once again stimulating improvements in overall health and fitness!

Reason #3: You Learn how to Use Equipment that you Wouldn’t Otherwise Use

It’s easy to tell ourselves “yeah, eventually I’ll learn how to use those kettlebells, TRX Straps, barbells, medicine balls, etc.” but how many people actually take the initiative and learn how to use them on their own? 5%? 10% at the most? Listen, we tell ourselves things all the time that we know we’ll never follow-up on, and telling yourself that you’ll eventually learn on your own how to use a new piece of fitness equipment is one of those things. But, if you immerse yourself in group fitness classes, you will have a trained instructor showing you and teaching you how to use new pieces of equipment that you’d never learn how to use on your own. This will not only improve your confidence, but it will also make the gym more fun for you, because now you actually know how to use a large percentage of the equipment there, instead of just the cardio and strength machines that basically self-guide you through everything.

Reason #4: You get to Meet Other, Like-Minded People and Develop Friendships

I kid you not, many of my closest friends are people who I’ve met at the gym while doing group fitness classes. It’s fun to be around other, like-minded people who share the same interest of improving health, wellness, and fitness. You don’t need an icebreaker to meet people in your group fitness classes because you can simply just talk to them about the class itself. It’s so simple to strike up a conversation with anyone because you’re sharing in the same experience together. There’s something about suffering through a workout together that simply brings a group of people closer together. I don’t know how else to say it, but it’s a really cool thing. The best is when you meet someone who is around your same fitness level, because then each workout becomes a friendly competition to see who can outperform the other!! This friendly competition, you will find, is one of the biggest motivators out there!

Reason #5: There is a Trained Set of Eyes on you to Correct your Technique When Needed

Yes, yes, I know. It’s quite possible that your coach is an IT software manager for their full-time job and his/her only qualification for coaching is that they took a one-weekend course and passed a take-home exam. While that all might be true, let me ask you this: Wouldn’t it be better to have a person watching you whose only qualification is a one-weekend coaching certification course compared to someone who is not qualified at all? I would say it’s certainly better to have someone with only a weekend coaching certification watching you exercise compared to someone who is not at all qualified, or even worse, having no one at all watch you exercise. That person who only took the one-weekend course very likely took it because they truly enjoy and have a passion for helping others move better. Although they might not have the most seasoned, trained pair of eyes to pick out minor movement faults, they more-than-likely know enough about movement mechanics to prevent you from getting injured. I can guarantee you that they sure as heck provide more value than having no one at all correcting your technique when it needs correcting.

There you have it, folks! My top 5 reasons for why participating in group fitness classes beats the pants off of working out alone. The benefits of group exercise are vast. Don’t spend another day going to the gym to do your “20 minutes on the elliptical” that you’ve been doing for the past 5 years. Although doing 20 minutes on the elliptical is certainly better than doing nothing, there is so much more to exercise than mindlessly moving your arms and legs in a pre-determined pattern on a cardio machine!!! Join some group fitness classes, and you’ll understand why I literally could never go back to working out alone again!!

-The Next Level Physio