Exploring Group Exercise Trends in Stafford

Local Group Exercise Director Joanne Briggs and Christina Allen teaching Les Mills: Grit (Photo: S.K. Allen)

Washington D.C., which metropolitan area includes Stafford, Virginia, has been voted one of the fittest cities in the U.S. by Shape Magazine. There are so many opportunities for fitness, especially group exercise.  There is no wonder D.C. is ranked #1 according to the AFI (American Fitness Index).

What is popular in D.C, isn’t necessarily what is popular in Stafford.  The things you see in D.C. tend to be more trendy but Stafford is a more family friendly place.

Group exercise comes in many different formats. “The trends as far as group fitness,  are anything mind-body related, like Yoga, and Pilates; people want flexibility training.”  Local Group Fitness Director Joanne Briggs said of the Stafford participants.  “There is also a high demand for the 30-minute formats ( Like Les Mills Sprint and Grit). They want classes that will make that time effective. They also want a lot of Strength and conditioning and dance formats.”

Dance fitness remains popular, and will probably always be that way. “Dance Fitness has been around since Jazzercise. It’s not going anywhere.” Briggs says of dance.

“Human beings are rhythmic beings.  Everything we do has a rhythm, the way we talk how we walk it all has a rhythm.”   She continues, “Whether you can do it or not, dance is something everyone wants to do.”

Group exercise offers many benefits you don’t get when you work out on your own.  One such benefit is the fact that group exercise is a social experience, where the people and the environment are safe and non-judgmental.  “I’m super awkward. So walking into a room where people are trying to figure it all out, just like me, feels great,” says participant Andrea Raiger.

Christina Allen and Joanne Briggs leading Les Mills: BodyJam (Photo: S.K. Allen)

There is an accountability factor in group exercise.  When there is a core group of people that routinely work out together, they will notice when one person in their circle is missing, which can help motivate them.  Additionally, when one person isn’t in the mood to work out, they will rally around each other, making their workouts more enjoyable and helping that person to get through the class.

If a workout is efficiently designed, and if the instructors are likable, then group fitness can transform people from being sedentary to being fitness junkies. People exercise better when in groups.  They exercise harder, longer, and more often. Something about a group setting that makes people more comfortable, and if they are more comfortable then they will come more often and stay longer than they would if they worked out on their own. It’s “Fitness Magic” and it makes all the difference in the world.  “The first time, (I walked into Zumba) the instructor just had this huge smile on her face.  She was having so much fun,” Raiger said. “So I had fun too.”

Instructors can make or break a group fitness class.  If an instructor can connect with the participants, encourage them, and make the environment socially safe, then people will come back for more of that ultimate fitness experience.

Music also has a lot to do with the success of group fitness. There have been a number of studies on music and exercise. The fun, danceable beats make people train harder, making the experience better all around.

Fun. That is what Group exercise brings.  It is an important aspect of fit lives. “Formats come and go, but the core of remains,” says Briggs.  It is the time to come together, leave the worries outside the door, and whether it be Mind Body, Strength, a 30-minute exercise format, or to dance the stress away, rest assured Group Exercise has just the right format for all.

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