Group exercise can be a very positive experience.
My wife, Edie, just got back from her exercise class. She goes to an excellent exercise class two times a week if she can. She prefers to exercise with a group rather than exercise by herself, even though when she can’t get the two per week classes into her day, she will sometimes go to the gym and work on the machines, and use the weights on her own. She prefers the camaraderie associated with group exercise.
It is not an easy class. I tried it once. Her class leader, who is a friend of mine and a tough but fair taskmaster, once told Edie that I wouldn’t like the class because I had my own routine that I did by myself. She was right. I prefer individual exercise. But the time I tried it was an eye opener for me. It was an eye opener for several reasons.
First it was very challenging. There were a lot of bodyweight strength movements along with the normal stretching and aerobic movements that I assumed the class would consist of. The instructor challenged all the major muscle groups in the body, as well as lubricating the hinges (joints) with suitable mobility and flexibility moves. She covered all the bases. The instructor motivated everyone do all the movements — and they did them . . . all of them.
Second, there were a lot of older adults in their late 60s and 70s who participated in the class. No one got a free pass. Even those over 70 did all the moves.
Third, there was accountability. This is important. You can’t make excuses. The other members of the class hold you accountable for full participation. This accountability includes showing up, showing up on time and doing the movements along with the entire class. No sloughing off.
Fourth was the amount of fun everyone seemed to be having, even though they were working hard together.
Years ago, I was involved in the original Boot Camp style program in the Washington, DC area. I had proposed to introduce a program for Seniors and ended up marketing as well as participating fully in the program. I was 62 at the time. The marketing pieces emphasized the following:
NO JUICE BARS
Their tag line was: BE ALL YOU USED TO BE! One of the most motivating aspects of the program was accountability. Sometimes, if you didn’t show up for class, the class might just go by your house and knock on your door. It was all in good fun and the programs were always full, usually 24 plus to a class, and held all over the DC area.
Classes and group exercise programs are great for many people and it might pay to look into a few of them. They can range from the full body exercise classes like my wife takes, to classes where older adults simply sit in a chair and move around a bit.
If you want to exercise but are uncomfortable being on your own, I would recommend that you find a class that emphasizes all aspects of fitness: Strength, flexibility, mobility, and some aerobics. They are held in gyms, Community Centers, YMCAs and many other locations. Talk to others already in the class before you join. Try to find a class where there are other Seniors participating. If they say that the instructor makes it easy — don’t join. If they say it is challenging — consider joining.
Give it a shot, you might just enjoy it.
Thank you for reading.