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We’re All in This Together – The Benefits of Group Fitness

Ready, set, go! When challenged to a race or contest, you give it your all for a better chance at bragging rights. The added competition may have helped motivate you to run a bit faster to win. The same mindset may happen in a group fitness class. 


Research suggests this could have to do with the KöhlerEffect – the idea that in a group setting, no one wants to be the weakest link. This study found that when participants did a plank beside a more-fit partner, the participants increased their plank times by 24 percent. This may suggest that we push ourselves harder when challenged by someone more athletic.

Whether you’re still a beginner or the most fit in the class, group fitness classes offer many benefits. According to a study published in The Journal of American Osteopathic Association, working out in a group lowered perceived stress by 26 percent and significantly improved quality of life. Those who exercised individually also saw a boost in quality of life, but no significant changes to their stress levels.

Everyone has reasons for why they enjoy certain types of workouts. But maybe you are needing an extra push of motivation or something that is just more fun. Here are some reasons why you may consider trying a group fitness class: 

  • Motivation: Pumped up music and vibrant instructors rev up your energy and may push you harder than you would push yourself. 
  • Accountability: Meeting your friend at the yoga studio may hold you accountable to make it to your mat. Some classes even have you sign up for the class beforehand to reserve a bike or treadmill, so there’s more pressure to follow through.
  • Variety: Instructors, music and exercises vary. The change is good to keep things exciting and to work different parts of your body. 
  • Structure: After a long day at work, the thought of thinking about what exercises to do could make you avoid the gym. But group fitness classes guide you through your workout from beginning to end – no additional planning required.  
  • Fun: And of course, group fitness classes are meant to be fun. Whether it’s flashing lights or the greatest throwback songs, many instructors plan their classes to be enjoyable, social and fun. 

If the cost to join a gym or yoga studio is holding you back, some health insurers, such as UnitedHealthcare, offer financial incentives for going to the gym or a non-traditional gym like CrossFit®, Pilates®and yoga on certain plans. 

For more information, call your health care provider to see if you can earn financial incentives for working out or if you are a UHC member, visit UHC.com.