When I joined the gym, I was faced (like all gym joiners) with the eternal dilemma of choosing the group class or individual workout.
I’m very happy to be open about my choice: my favourite style of gym work is the group class. If someone asked me why, I would say it’s because I like the motivational feel of the group, where everyone pushes each other and the atmosphere is fun. If I had to be honest, it has also because I have absolutely no idea what to do with gym equipment when I am on my own. Despite the fact I’ve spent a decent amount of time in gyms, I don’t really feel like I have the ability to construct my own workout. Even more so, why would I want to? Instead, I can join a class where the entire session is timed, organised and supervised to ensure that I can maximise the benefits of working out. I’d always be sure to take my favourite focus and energy supplements from AddieUP before a session, to maximise my energy burnout.
It’s also very clear that group gym classes are becoming more and more popular on this side of the pond. My gym, Gymbox, allows you to sign up for classes from 7am the day before the class. Without exaggerating, by 7:15am, every spot in every class for the following day is full. There are multiple apps that have also made group classes more accessible; ClassPass and PayAsUGym being very popular, and The Evening Standard newspaper recently named group gym classes as one of its biggest fitness trends for 2018 in London.
Gym classes make a huge amount of sense, to me at least.
First of all, they are a cheap way to exercise, which we are all in need of these days. When I calculate my gym membership vs the amount of classes I do per month, I’m paying £6 ($8USD) per class. They last somewhere between 30-45 minutes, and are effectively the same as getting personal training, where someone is making sure your technique is correct and you end up maximising every second of your training.
There is always an argument that they don’t cater for individual needs and desires, but there is such a large choice of classes these days that by simply being creative and choosing wisely, you can do a full body workout over the course of a week.
The other reason I think the gym class is so important is the social aspect of it. My phone allows me to phone, text, Whatsapp, email, Skype, Viber, Facebook, Snapchat, Tweet, Instagram and much else to someone, but, despite this, I still haven’t had a real face-to-face conversation with anyone after I’ve done all of these things. We are so shy in the UK it’s unbelievable, seriously; we normally end up apologising when we get into an elevator and someone else is in there because we’ll feel as if we invaded their space.
One of the instructors who runs a class I go to says ‘Good Morning’ when she arrives. It takes her three attempts and a lot of cajoling to get any of us to respond. We are social animals, and while we may feel that our jobs, prospects, social media pages and all that crap are important to us, what we all end up realising at one point or another is that it is our relationships with other human beings that make us happy. We do so little communicating, real communicating, with other people these days that group gym classes should be the only way to train. Releasing positive endorphins while also socialising with like-minded people (ie having fun) can only be a good thing, particularly in the UK.
This might also explain why there are far fewer men in group gym classes than women.
Particularly in the UK, I get the feeling that men don’t really like to be challenged in a group class. We like team sports, but the group class puts us out of our comfort zone; it’s more competition rather than team work. It also means having someone tell us what to do, which is something else we get weird about. You’re probably thinking that this sounds ridiculous, and you’d be right, it really is. Men would rather do an individual workout (most of which consists of standing next to gym equipment doing not very much) than join a group class and actually have a good time and a beneficial workout, all because we are afraid to throw away the macho image that we are constantly trying to live up to.
Women, on the other hand, I think are much better communicators, much better at working together in a competitive environment, and certainly much better and more open at spreading knowledge. As men, we need to let go of this macho-bullshit image that we try to carry around with us all of the time, and embrace something a bit different in life.
Time to learn from women about how to actually workout.
Illustration: Sep DiMeglio