Hula Dancers
Joining a dance group or partnering with friends for a regular workout is one of the best ways to keep motivated and meet your fitness goals.

The ABCs of Group Fitness

Dance, water aerobics, cycling — no matter what sport or fitness activity you’re considering, decide to do it together with others and you’ll set the stage for great results. In fact, a recent study by the American Osteopathic Association found that those who participated in group fitness activities showed significant improvements in both mental and physical health compared with those who worked out alone.

Here’s a rundown of the top benefits of group fitness; a quick look at these ABCs just might surprise you into signing up.

A is for Accountability

Whether you join a local soccer league or rowing team, or sign up for a hula or salsa class, having others depending on you will provide extra motivation to keep showing up and stick to your exercise plan.

B is for Buddies

Set up a post-work group run or make some friends at the gym, and you’ll have that many more reasons not to miss this week’s workout. Having exercise buddies is also helpful when it comes to sports like tennis and activities like swing dance that you can’t easily do solo. If there’s something you’ve wanted to try but don’t want to do it alone, spread the word and you might be surprised how many people are on board to partner up.

C is for Confidence

It can be intimidating to try a new activity or sport. How often have you said you were going to sign up for tennis lessons or a Zumba class, but never managed to make it happen? But join up with a friend or two, and it’s a completely different experience. You can encourage each other to take chances, giggle over missed steps, shop for gear, and just generally make the whole thing more fun and less stressful.

D is for Determination

When you’re sweating solo, it’s tempting to slow down or throw in the towel when you get tired. But being part of a group helps you stay inspired throughout your workout, keeping you on track and moving toward your fitness goals. It’s also a great way to boost momentum, as everyone gains new skills and feels more fit.

E is for Encouragement

It’s easy to get discouraged when trying to meet fitness, weight loss, and other lifestyle goals. After all, things don’t always happen as fast as you’d like them to, and when they don’t, your morale may start to drop. A good example of this is New Year’s Resolutions; when you aren’t ten pounds lighter or running a mile by April, you give up. This is where friends come in: they can point out where you’ve improved, remind you how hard you’ve worked, and encourage you to keep working toward your goal.

F is for Fun

What’s fitness without fun? With so many options available, you’re sure to find a group class you can enjoy with old friends and new acquaintances. Just a few more of the many options to consider:

  • kickboxing
  • Pilates
  • tap dance
  • yoga
  • basketball
  • barre
  • fitness boot camp
  • swing dance

Whichever you pick, you’ll be happier knowing you’ll be doing it with friends.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.