• After spending most of the lockdown exercising at home alone, I wanted to look at things differently.
  • I joined a gym and signed up for fitness classes. I was the only man in the room again and again.
  • I wasn’t sure if it was for me at first, but they are the most challenging workouts I’ve ever done.

As I approach my late 40s, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle. So when a new gym opened in my neighborhood late last year with heavily discounted introductory deals, I decided to become a member.

I had joined many gyms in my lifetime but always found myself very lethargic which affected my motivation. but this time, i was determined to stick with itSo I decided to try something new: I decided to join group fitness classes.

In college, I stuck to lifting weights, but found I didn’t enjoy it

My college gym was a testosterone fest – it was full of young men showing off and bragging about their massive muscles. I certainly wasn’t Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but I lifted weights daily to get fit with the bench press bros. We came, we benched, we squatted, and we would parade in front of mirrors like peacocks admiring our bodies.

While the exercises I was doing worked to develop some muscle on my previously small frame, it was not a pleasant experience for me, and I quit going to the gym as soon as I graduated college.

While my wallet got a workout over the years, my body didn’t

After college, it seemed like I was following the same cycle every few years.

I’d buy a 12-month membership to a gym, lift weights for a few months, and then get disinterested and stop going. This is quite common; In fact, it’s something gyms count on. research from Global Health & Fitness Association It has been shown that only about 18% of people with gym memberships go to the gym regularly.

A gym membership you’re not using is like throwing money down the drain, and it’s a cycle I was determined to break. I knew I needed to do something different and move forward with a fresh approach.

After the lockdown at the start of the pandemic, I missed social interaction and decided to try a new fitness strategy

I live in Melbourne, Australia, and we reluctantly earned the title of world’s longest lockdown At the start of the pandemic: 262 days, to be exact. This meant that I spent a lot of time at home, and a lot working on my own in my house. Once the lockdown ended, I went back to the gym with a new purpose – I was going to do group fitness classes.

During the extended lockdown period, I had missed seeing other people and thought I would take a two-birds-one-stone approach to exercise and get some social interaction to move my body. I thought working with a coach and a group of like-minded people would be more motivating.

I almost flunked out of my first class, I felt like a fish out of water

first class i signed up was called “Body Sculpt” and I didn’t know what to expect.

I walked into the fitness studio and almost straight back out. Salsa music was playing, and the room was filled with women with expensive yoga mats wearing their trendy Lululemon activewear. I, on the other hand, was in a baggy old T-shirt and shorts and hadn’t brought a water bottle, let alone a mat; I felt like everyone was staring at me, like I was an unknown stranger. I was a really weird guy.

The instructor, Milan, introduced himself and asked me to borrow a gym mat from reception. Taking my debtor in hand, I moved to the corner of the room in an effort to make myself as rare as possible. Class began, and Milan led a choreographed warm-up, with the entire room moving in unison as I ran around, a beat or two behind each step.

Ash Gerberg and friends after taking a group fitness class at the gym

Gerberg and friends after taking a group fitness class at the gym.

Courtesy Ash Gerberg

With my two left legs and lack of coordination, I was feeling self-conscious and regretting my decision to stay. Dancing is not a skill I would list on the social version of a resume, but I continued with matching and encouragement from other people in the class.

Participating in group fitness classes made me feel less manly, and I knew I needed to challenge that way of thinking.

At the end of 45 minutes, I was exhausted, and most of my body ached. part of the class was cardio, part was working with weights, and one of the most challenging workouts I ever did Still, I felt awkward being the only man. Was I somehow less manly for choosing this style of workout? And if not, why weren’t there other men in the class?

Even though I loved it after my first class, I still wasn’t sure it was for me. The truth is that there are a lot of outdated stereotypes when it comes to group fitness classes. People still have visions of spandex-clad trainers, like the ladies Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons leading groups with Olivia Newton-John’s music, urging people to be physical.

maybe that’s why almost 80% of 1,500 group fitness participants The women were surveyed by Statista between 2016 and 2018. If you do a Google image search for “group exercise,” pictures showing groups of women will pop up one after the other. Even though these images persist, I can’t ignore the fact that I really enjoyed my time at “Body Sculpt”.

You can turn off the music – there are a wide variety of group fitness classes

As soon as I got out, Milan asked if I was coming back. I looked a little unsure, so he suggested I try a high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, class that weekend; As an encouragement, he told me there was no music. I was determined to break old habits, so I agreed.

Two days later, according to Milan’s word, there was no dancing in class—but again I was the only man in the room. Yet many of the participants were also in my first class, and they welcomed me warmly. I gave an embarrassed smile and warmed up to him.

The HIIT class was an hour long and incredibly exhausting. But Milan provided encouragement and a good structure, ensuring all body parts were worked while maintaining shape, and ramped up the intensity over 60 minutes. I can’t remember when I ever worked so hard when the bench press was bro!

It’s a challenging workout, my mindset about exercise has improved, and I feel part of a team

For the next few weeks, I added more and more group fitness classes to my exercise schedule. Some involved music and some were on the gym floor. Of all of them, I was still the only man in attendance.

I’ve always found it boring to work by myself. It’s easier to find an excuse to sleep in or watch Netflix than to hit the gym alone. But having a group class on my schedule provides a sense of motivation and anticipation. It makes me feel part of a team and the variety of group classes means I don’t get as bored as I used to be when I was lifting weights. The extra motivation I had has a psychological reason. research has found exercising with other people provides intrinsic motivation,

As I attended a few weeks of classes, I began to settle into the routine, the choreography, and the team mindset. I moved on from embarrassment or feeling the shame of being the only guy in my class, and I learned there was no reason for either. Now, nearly a year later, I look forward to seeing my fellow group members, and we encourage each other to work harder during class. There’s no competition focused on lifting or doing more reps, just a supportive environment. I feel like I have a group of personal trainers helping push me.

I never thought I’d be the type of person who would look forward to going to the gym six days a week — but thanks to group classes, I am. according to 2021 Global Fitness ReportLive classes are the most popular gym activity, and it’s a shame many men aren’t paying attention.

I may be the only guy in a group fitness class, but it’s better than working out alone or not going at all. I am fitter and more motivated than ever. Now I just need to work on my dance steps.

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