A Guide to Group Fitness
Many studies have shown that focusing on fitness – regardless of how much you weigh – is necessary to lower your health risks. Yet, it’s easier to focus on the weight loss rather than the fitness aspect of dieting.
The reason is because losing weight is a personal journey. But there are a number of benefits when you engage in group fitness, on both a physical and mental level.
Losing Weight Is Easier With Support
When it comes to losing weight and getting fit, it’s always better to have support rather than to try to go it alone. You don’t have to get involved in a large group if you’re the kind of person who likes to keep things low key.
But it’s important that you have someone in your life who is on the same journey to fitness that you are. Statistics have repeatedly shown that people who use the fitness buddy system end up not only losing weight and getting fit faster, but they tend to keep it off long term.
Having someone who understands what you’re experiencing helps with discouragement. Being able to share the journey keeps your motivation strong. It also keeps you on track because you’ll quit on you before you’ll quit on someone else.
That’s just human nature. We hate to disappoint other people much more than we hate disappointing ourselves. Losing weight and getting fit with the help of a buddy system is easier, too – because we tend to talk ourselves into things that aren’t good for us if it’s something we want.
This includes things like deciding that we need to blow off eating healthy because we’ve worked hard all week. A diet and fitness buddy will be there to help you through those times when you’re rationalizing taking steps that can potentially derail your success.
Having someone in your corner can make exercising more fun. You’ll look forward to the social connection. Support means that you have someone who can help keep you in check when you’re exercising to make sure you’re not overdoing it or that your body is properly aligned when you’re working out on the machines at the gym.
When you have someone to help support your weight loss and fitness efforts, you’ll discover that you’re challenging yourself to work out harder and longer than you would if you were trying to do it on your own.
Having someone else along on the same journey not only helps give you support but opens up a bit of a competitive drive within you. It’s part of human nature to want to compete to be the best at what you’re doing when you’re engaging in the same physical activity with someone else.
When you share a weight loss and fitness journey with an accountability partner, you’ll see that losing weight and getting in shape can become something to look forward to that’s much easier than it has been in the past.
What to Look For in an Accountability Partner
When you’re looking for an accountability partner, the first thing you need to check is that the other person is truly committed to getting into shape. A lot of people talk about making changes but don’t actually perform any action that will lead to weight loss or getting fit.
You should be up front with whoever you decide to walk the fitness journey with. The level of commitment needs to be the same for both of you. Whoever you have as a partner needs to be someone that you can trust.
Having a fitness partner requires honesty and if there’s no trust, you won’t ever feel truly comfortable with that person. It’s a good idea to discuss what you can and can’t do with the person and you need to set boundaries so that each of you knows what to expect.
You might want to go ahead and plan out how often you’ll meet to talk and for exercise. Deciding whether or not you want to set up time for phone encouragement sessions or email discussions is also important.
When you coordinate your time right from the beginning, then the relationship gets off to a positive start. You should also set up what types of challenges you’re looking for and what kind of feedback.
Discuss what you need to hear when you do have fall off the wagon. When you do find someone who helps you with your fitness goals, there are certain things that can help make the relationship a successful one.
That success is found in what you discuss with the other person. You do need to be as open and as up front as you feel comfortable being. You should discuss your weight loss goals.
Mention how much you want to lose and your motivation behind it. You want to do this because then your accountability partner has the knowledge to be able to help keep you motivated.
He or she can remind you of your goal to lose weight for health reasons or for bikini season. Whatever the reason, the other person can act as someone who can nudge you closer to your long term goal.
Another thing you’ll want to discuss are the roadblocks that have always been in your way before when you’ve tried to lose weight and get fit. If your accountability partner knows up front that you find it harder to work out after you have a stressful day at work, then he or she will be able to help push you through that block.
Sometimes, all it takes is for someone else to tell you that you can do it and that you’ll feel better for your mindset to change. Instead of going home and sitting in front of the television to destress, you’ll find that your accountability partner has motivated you to head to the gym instead.
Discussing what things in your lifestyle try to hinder you from reaching your goals can help your accountability partner be able to openly discuss ways that you can work around those hindrances.
When you’re working with an accountability partner, you also want to discuss challenges. Find out how you can challenge each other to push harder to reach levels you never have before.
You should talk about what fitness levels you’re hoping to reach so that the other person knows when to spur you forward in a workout. An accountability partner doesn’t have to be in real life.
You can find one online and there are pros and cons to both. For an accountability partner that’s in real life, it can be more social. You can meet up for face-to-face time.
You have the benefit of socializing and getting encouragement in real time. This doesn’t always happen when the other person is an online accountability partner because if they’re not online, then you won’t have that support available.
When you’re feeling like you’re about to fall off the fitness wagon, you can call a real life accountability partner and ask to meet up for a workout. But having support online can be equally beneficial to some people.
This is especially true if you’re an introvert and you find it difficult to be open when you’re faced with someone in real life. Online accountability partnerships offer a degree of separation that some people prefer.
Plus, you might find it easier to talk to someone who isn’t in your immediate social circle. The upside to having a real life accountability partner is that you’re less likely to want to let them down than you would someone online.
It’s also easier to be more competitive and challenge yourself in real life than online. An online accountability partner can make it easier for your goals to become more concrete and for you to get a visual for tracking your progress.
As you type out your messages back and forth, you’ll have a record of how well you’re doing and you’ll be able to see how you sound – whether you sound upbeat or discouraged.
Sometimes, seeing something written out makes it easier for you to recognize what needs to change so that you can stay motivated. The connection to an accountability partner who is online can sometimes actually be stronger than one in real life because people tend to put aside their masks when they’re online.
There can be a lowering of the guard with someone else when there’s a screen between the two of you. It can be easier to vent your weight loss or fitness frustrations to an online accountability partner when you might hold back with someone who’s in real life.
The Person to Avoid Choosing for Your Accountability Partner
It can be tempting to ask a close friend or a family member to be your accountability partner. But although that person might love you and want the best for you, sometimes they just don’t make the best accountability partner.
The reason is because they’re often too easy on you, too willing to help to de-motivate you by telling you that everything is fine, that you look fine, that skipping your healthy eating plan or fitness routine is no big deal because they love you just as you are.
While that’s sweet, it’s not the kind of thing that you need. Your friends and family won’t often give you the butt kicking that you need to stay on track. They won’t actually hold you accountable and tell you that you can do better, that you made certain goals and need to stick to them.
In other words, they let you off easy. When that happens, it’s easy to chill out than to work out. It’s not always best to make your spouse your accountability partner because it can be too easy to either let one another slide with goals or to get upset with each other.
You don’t want your fitness journey to cause tension at home when someone gets upset or frustrated with the other person. You also want to avoid people who tell you the truth but aren’t compassionate about it.
You do need to be held accountable but you don’t need to be sliced and diced either. If someone rips you to shreds and makes you feel like scum, that’s not helpful.
You should avoid choosing the person who uses put downs or makes fun of other people when they make a mistake. They’ll do the same to you when you have a setback.
While it’s always helpful to find an accountability partner who also wants to lose weight, you don’t want to partner with someone who’s a downer. Hearing someone say, “I’ll never lose this weight” or, “working out is just too hard” will eventually wear on you.
When you’re with someone who is a downer, you rarely pull them up emotionally. Instead, they end up making you feel worse. Skip partnering with a rationalizer. This is the type of partner who can always find a way to get out of eating healthy and working out.
They say they need to skip eating healthy because they had a hard day. Or they can’t work out because they don’t feel like it and they say they want to get fit, but they spend more time talking about it than actually doing anything about it.
Your accountability partner must be motivated and determined to get fit. Otherwise, it won’t be a beneficial relationship for you. You also want to avoid the sabotager.
This is the accountability partner who encourages you to blow your diet or skip the workout to go do something “fun.” You’ll find that they undermine you. They’re always pointing out what else you could be doing or tempting you to make bad choices.
Get Involved in a Big Group Fitness Program
While having an accountability partner has been shown to be a successful way to stick to your fitness goals, you shouldn’t overlook big group fitness programs either.
These work because you gain the team mentality when you work out with a group. Plus, people who work out in a group fitness program are more likely to exercise more often each week than people who aren’t involved in group fitness.
There is power and plenty of challenges to be found when you’re working out with a group of people. That’s one of the reasons why things like Zumba have become so popular.
When you’re surrounded by large groups of people who are doing the same thing, it’s easier to stay motivated not only during the workout – but it keeps your motivation level high during the week.
You look forward to meeting up with the class or program again. There are groups that are decided to fitness such as hiking groups. You get to work on your fitness while exploring new areas with people who all have the same goal.
Dance exercise classes are an extremely popular fitness program because they’re social, fun and give you a great workout. When people interact with others in a positive way, the brain releases endorphins.
Social interaction like this that causes the endorphin levels to rise makes you feel happier and associate working out as something pleasurable. Working out with a group of people helps you see that you’re not alone.
Regardless of how you feel when you arrive, you leave feeling motivated and full of energy. Bonding over a common goal takes place in a group setting and that can raise the accountability level.
More people will notice if you’re not there. The instructor gets used to seeing your face and people will question your absence when you return. You gain friends through group fitness programs and many of these people end up doing activities together beyond the fitness class.
This builds your social circle of like minded people who help you stay on target even when you’re not working out. The bond that carries over from being in a group together makes it easier to make smart choices when you go out to eat with people who want what you want.