Posts Tagged ‘Group fitness’

Extreme Exercise … why the hysteria?

August 23, 2015

extreme-exercises-postFlogging yourself fitness is all the rage.

Think CrossFit, Bikram yoga, Tough Mudder-type challenges and ultramarathons.

They’re same, same but different to your average exercise.

Average exercise we might describe as ‘fun’ whereas flogging yourself fitness is more about self-flagellation.

It’s not just being stuck in a stinky sauna and flicked with someone else’s sweat while you workout (looking at you Bikram).

Overheating, vomiting, enduring electric shocks, dehydration, bruises, cuts, kidney-failure and cardiac damage are just some of the potential risks of such high-intensity forms of fitness. 

So why are people drawn to them in droves?

Some put it down to our instant gratification, go hard or go home culture.  Others suggest that extreme exercisers are sensation-seekers who enjoy the bragging rights earned by doing (arguably) insane yet unique activities.

“It’s psychologically more rewarding than plodding away on a treadmill,” points out Dr Jeremy Adams, a psychologist with a PhD in sport and exercise psychology. “People get psychological benefits from feeling like they’ve achieved something.”

Plus, he adds, there’s often novelty factor, challenge and the bonding that tends to go on within niche fitness cultures.

“They’re really tribal,” he says of Bikram and CrossFit. “Exercise with others when you find it rewarding and you will get massive benefits.”

The physical catharsis of these types of exercise is huge.

But as much as they are physical activities, the feel-good factor seems to lie largely in the mental benefits.

A 2013 study by Australian researcher Eric Brymer found that the challenge of mind over matter – in this case our bodies – can be mentally and emotionally “transformative”.

As we break through physical and mental  barriers and, often, face our fears we experience “a sense of personal liberation”, Brymer wrote in the study which was published in the Journal of Health Psychology.

As well as a sense of liberation, extreme exercise can bring a greater sense of control, new research suggests.

“What we’re finding is that when people are feeling a loss of control, they’re particularly likely to go for these high-effort things like very intense workouts because it makes them feel empowered,” the co-authorof the study, Dr Keisha Cutright told Time.

“You feel like you’re in charge of the desired outcome,”  Cutright added of the results, which were published in the Journal of Consumer Research. “You find a certain amount of control over your life, and that feels good.”

While there are benefits associated with stretching ourselves through sport and exercise, there can also be a dark side.

And it’s not just the risk that people will become, as Adams puts is, “zealots about a particular brand of exercise”.

A 2011 study conducted by University of Queensland psychologists found that those who felt guilt in their life were more prone to  punish themselves through pain.

“Going on a hard run is perhaps a convenient way to make ourselves feel better after we’ve behaved badly,” Brock Bastian, the study’s co-author, explained. “It makes us feel like the scales of justice have been rebalanced.”

There is also the more obvious dark side of pushing ourselves to our limit.

“It might have instant rewards but there is also the potential for massive injury,” Dr Adams says.

Potential injury and the potential to become obsessed with exercise.

Adams says there are certain criteria that make it “pretty obvious” that someone’s approach to exercise has become unhealthy.

These include not taking rest days, exercising through injury or ill health, subscribing to “logic fallacies” like two hours of exercise must be better than one, becoming upset and irrational when their exercise routine is broken and putting exercise before all else.

For the most part, however, getting hooked on exercise and pushing our limits here and there is healthy. Particularly given that we’re becoming more sedentary as a population.

“Provided we have plenty of rest, have good instruction, diets and sleep, you can have high intensity work outs,” Adams says. “They give better mood benefits.

“The harder you work out, the better – to a point. If you vomit, you won’t feel good.”

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Why Group Exercise Works

December 9, 2014


Humans are by nature social creatures, which is why most people take to group exercises like duck to water. Exercising in a group has been around for generations. Some people generally find it difficult to exercise or train by themselves as they feel much happier and are more comfortable in a group environment where everyone has like-minded goals. The energy and team effort to push and encourage each other is also a motivational factor, and the idea of everyone starting a group exercise session and then finishing it together brings with it an overwhelming sense of achievement.

Benefits of group exercise

Social interaction, connection and engagement through group exercise acts as a great character building exercise as the benchmarks are usually set by people who are fitter or stronger than you. This forces one to push beyond one’s accepted limits and abilities.

Exercising with like-minded individuals can lead to life changing relationships. Additionally working in a group ensures members provide support to each other and are also accountable to each other. It also lends structure and a sense of play to exercise. The biggest benefit is that of being able to tune out the day-to-day stresses relating to work or otherwise and just unwinding in a healthful manner in the company of friends.

FAQs regarding group exercise

No individual attention.

One of the biggest worries people have with group exercise is that they will not get the required attention of the instructor as it is divided between so many people. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instructors in today’s group exercise world are trained to coach classes comprising a large number of people. Training a group is almost like an art form, as one has to cater to the physical abilities of a range of people – those who are beginners and those who have been exercising for a few years.

In all my years as a group exercise instructor, I have never experienced a divide between the instructor and a member from lack of communication or connection. We have always maintained safety and had fun while exercising.

Technique versus numbers?

Will technique get sacrificed in the pursuit of attracting more students? Again, ‘No!’ Group exercises usually start with a 15-minutes or express induction classes that focus purely on technique. This is one way to keep group classes safe and user-friendly.

Additionally, instructors of these group classes are themselves trained by world-class assessors to perfect their own technique. A technique test that meets global standard has to be passed before an instructor can teach group classes. This is why it is important to train individually or as a part of a group with qualified fitness experts.

How big can a class get?

Funnily enough, there is NO number big enough not to have group exercise classes. Qualified trainers have trained up to 7,000 people at a time – the Guinness Book of Records I think stands at 9’000 plus.

But when not chasing Guinness records, most fitness clubs can hold up to 60 to 80 people in a class. The biggest class I have personally taught had 3,000 people and it was a fun and stimulating experience.

Support or rivalry?

It’s a great idea for friends to be exercising together but a healthy rivalry is always going to occur no matter what. For example, two friends who have decided to enter a group training session will have personal fitness standards but will try to do better than each other. However, they will also share a camaraderie that ensures that they support and help each other improve their own performance.

Can I vary my workout in a group? Workout

Yes. Try different group exercises that cater to different tastes and varying fitness goals. Make it a point to try out the group exercise classes for aerobics, kickboxing, cycling, running and even boot camps. This ensures boredom is kept at bay and your body is on its toes, thus resulting in better fitness results

Article sourced from:

Why Group Exercise Works

May 28, 2013


1. Be Social

Social support allows you to have fun while working out, which can be tedious at times. In addition to bonding with your peers, you may even meet someone in a group class and make a new friend—they even have some of the same interests and lifestyle goals as you, right? Plus, your workout won’t seem too bad when you have happily chatted your way through the time that it took you to do that killer plank.


2. Get Stronger and Go Longer

Group exercise challenges you to work your muscles harder and increase your endurance beyond your perceived limitations. Which everyone is watching, it is more likely that you will show off (it’s human nature after all) by lifting heavier weights, putting more effort into your rows on the machine and running on the treadmill for a longer period of time. In fact, a study using rowers actually showed that those working out in a group had increased grip strength during practice than those rowers who worked out alone.


3. Burn More Calories

When working out with a small group there is no place to hide and I doubt you want to look like the runt of the litter. That is why people push harder when exercising with others, translating that determination into increased calorie burn. One study from the Archives of Internal Medicine journal shows that overweight participants working out with a partner lost more than 5% of their body weight if their partners also lost 5%.  In other words, exercising with a partner makes you work hard not to be the littlest piggy of the bunch.


4. Feel Happier

Ah, the psychological and physiological benefits of exercise feel nice. That’s probably because the two types of benefits are related due to specific neurologic chemicals known to induce happiness: endorphins.  Endorphins (produced during socialization, exercise, sex, eating hot foods, meditation and other triggering events) interact with receptors found in your brain to block pain and create a euphoric feeling. This is why marathon runners express feeling a “runner’s high” at the end of their race. Also, remember Legally Blonde anyone? Well said, Elle Woods.


5. Motivate Each Other

Research shows that within the first six months of starting an exercise program, 50% of those participants will drop out. Woah, that sure is a waste of time and money for something you are not willing to commit to—that is, if you do not have a friend to keep you accountable. The Journal of American Academy of Physician Assistants recommends group or partner exercise specifically because people are more likely to “stay on track.” Additionally, seeing what someone like you can accomplish will inspire you to reach for the same fitness goals. Plus, the constant positive feedback doesn’t hurt either!


THE BOTTOM LINE: Let your best friend or new workout group inspire you to feel happier, healthier and more supported when striving to succeed in your most difficult goals!




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Posted on Posted on 02/26/2013