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Group Exercise Classes Changed My Life- Get Fitter, Lose Weight, and Feel Happier!
While I was at university, my housemate would go to the local sports center for aerobics two or three evenings a week. Every time she said ‘why not come? You’ll like it.’ I would not dignify her with any other answer than a mocking pike; I was not that kind of person. The prospect filled with horror; a room of health-crazed skinny women in extremely tight clothes torturing themselves to cruel music. I couldn’t even think about it without feeling sick. However, I noticed that my housemate was starting to look fantastic, in fact everyone noticed; she lost weight and looked toned; she had a spring in her step, she glowed. I rather wanted to lose weight, and glowing was quite high on my priority list, but I still couldn’t bring myself to; I didn’t have the right clothes to wear, and couldn’t resist wearing lycra outfits in a brightly lit changing room. I knew I would feel milky, lumpy and uncoordinated, so I dug my heels in and sat at home watching Eastenders and eating cookies.
Several years later I found myself with a lovely young child, and about a stone of un-fun extra weight. The prospect of a swimsuit filled me with dread, but I was desperate enough to start swimming two or three times a week. The exercise was challenging, but relaxing, and gave me some freedom from being a working mom. I started to (shock horror) enjoy it; my bathing suit became baggy; then I really started to enjoy it. One day the swimming lanes were closed and my only option was; OH NOW an aqua aerobics class. I was consumed with annoyance; did they not understand that I could not take part in such a disgusting pursuit; I was not that kind of person. The other option was to go home without exercise, and so I reluctantly stepped into the unknown world of aqua aerobics; it was great. It was true that I wouldn’t choose to listen to the music at home, but it seemed completely normal and even enjoyable as part of the class. There were no skinny health crazy women who made me feel lumpy and uncoordinated, just lots of nice people enjoying themselves. I left feeling pink and bloated, but excited, and booked myself into the next session. After a few weeks, I needed more, and arrived on dry land for a Bums and Tums class. I loved it; I’m not sure how much practice I got because I couldn’t understand what was going on even though it seemed to make sense to everyone. I continued until I could decipher the new language of aerobics. Three months later I was hooked; I was Vikki Scovell, you know the one who is always in class. I lost weight, my arms and legs grew toned, and my stomach was flatter than it had been in years. I was happy, I was glowing, and everyone noticed the change. I went shopping and bought a new wardrobe of fitted clothes. I squealed with wild glee in the changing rooms the first time I slipped into a size 12 dress, ceremoniously packing a bag of size16 goodies for the charity shop.
That was seven years ago, and I have never looked back. I continued to exercise through my second pregnancy, and am proud to have gone into labor during an aqua aerobics class; the only time I have ever left a class early (only 10 minutes). Now that I teach aerobics and yoga every day, I feel privileged to see other people take control and transform their lives by attending classes. I have seen people battle weight issues, lack of confidence, and deal with personal tragedies. Friendships are forged, interests are created, and I have seen the most graceless of people gain the balance and control of a ballerina. Group exercise changes people’s lives; I know that for a fact. There is a wide variety of group exercise for every social group, fitness level, and age; there really is something for everyone. Some of the many benefits to attending group exercise include:
o Have a qualified instructor to guide you, and teach efficient and safe techniques.
o Feeling a sense of camaraderie and meeting new people.
o Build personal confidence, body awareness and coordination.
o Benefit from a wide range of different disciplines, and a wide variety of class times to suit your schedule.
o Learning something new, challenging yourself and feeling a massive sense of accomplishment when you do something for the first time.
o Release stress and let go of your responsibilities; let your teacher take control for an hour. If you follow a routine and attend class, you cannot focus on your daily problems and worries.
o Improve physical and mental well-being, become fitter and feel happier; recent studies at the University of Strathclyde took women with early stage breast cancer and sent them to 2 group exercise classes a week, and one session on their own. After 12 weeks, the women showed significant increases in their psychological and physical well-being, including reduced depression and a sense that their overall quality of life had increased, as well as increased health and fitness.
There are as many reasons to attend a class as there are lessons to try; look out in your local community centres, school halls, fitness clubs and parks. Go and try something this week; attending class changed my life for the better, and it just might do the same for you in one of a million different wonderful ways.
until next time,
See you in class!
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