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East County Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 3 years ago

Group Fitness: Something for everyone

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Local gyms offer group classes suited for any fitness goal and age group.
by: Jessica Salmond Staff Writer

Group fitness isn’t a new concept, but it has developed since the days of Olivia Newton John’s hit music video for her song, “Physical” in 1981.

With options ranging from Zumba and yoga to kickboxing and strength training, group fitness classes are an abundant and diverse resource with options for all age ranges, fitness levels and intensities.

Group fitness now is a hybrid of creating a community and getting personal training in a group setting.

Matthew Hickey, who previously owned a gym in Ohio, has been a personal trainer for 16 years. He now works at Orangetheory in Lakewood Ranch. Part of the shift back to group-based workouts had to do with the downturn of the economy, he said. 

“People were looking for ways to save money,” he said. “I had people say, ‘I have to cut back, I can’t spend the money to come see you anymore.’”

So trainers started offering group classes to lower costs while retaining clients. 

“Financially, it’s cheaper because a one-on-one could be $60 to $100 per session for private training,” Hickey said.

Now, people who want to get fit in a group have lots of options for different levels. 

There are the intensive, high-impact groups like Orangetheory and CrossFit, while other gyms offer low-impact exercises that are still effective. 

Orangetheory is a 60-minute workout based on heart rate, combining treadmill, row machine and weight room work to build strength, power and endurance.

On the other end of the workout spectrum, barre3 offers a 60-minute workout that combines aspects of ballet, yoga and Pilates for cardio and strengthening. Co-owner and instructor Paulina Manning said there is a common misconception that “low impact” means easy, but the classes are challenging without adding a jolt to joints. 

“It doesn’t mean an easier workout,” she said. 

But it does make the workout an option for many age groups, including people with injuries. 

“Our clients range from 16 to 75,” Manning said. 

Both Manning and Hickey said another big draw for group fitness is the sense of community people feel by attending classes with those who have similar goals. 

Group fitness adds in the accountability and support factors, Manning said. 

“A lot of people fall off their regimen from that lack of support,” he said. “It’s all about more fun when you do things in a group.”

Hickey said people like to attend a specific class, so they start recognizing each other. They also notice when someone’s gone, so the last thing anyone wants to do is disappoint the group. 

“When someone’s not here, if does bring down the energy of the group,” he said. “We say we don’t get mad, we get disappointed.”

Manning said barre3 focuses efforts on its community spirit outside of the one hour of workout. Members have a database of exercises and recipes to try, and the gym is heavily involved in social media to keep connecting to their clients. 

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