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Why group fitness could be the key to your 2017 health goals

Why group fitness could be the key to your 2017 health goals

When you think about joining a fitness program, you usually think of it as an individual effort. True, you might desire to attain the fitness of a certain friend or acquaintance, but they too maintain an individual training routine. Whether you’re interested in strength training, aerobics, meditation, or yoga, you only think of such fitness programs based on personal preferences. Your choices are not determined by what others want, but what you want. You would not think of starting on meditation just because others are meditating. Even the gym you join most probably only offers packages for an individual.

    Nevertheless, have you ever thought about team-based fitness programs? Have you ever considered approaching fitness as a group, and not as an individual? Now imagine, what if the choice of a gym, fitness exercises, and frequency of exercises, was elevated above your preferences to be a group decision? This article will review potential advantages that justify a group fitness program. Team-based fitness programs have become a significant trend in modern gyms, becoming even more popular by the day, and it is important to understand why.

    Why choose team exercise?

    People have always recognized the value of team-driven fitness programs but never acknowledged it. Consider this: many of the people who join a first class gym for aerobic exercises can afford to have a few machines at home for the exercises. They may even have an excellent swimming pool, and a spare room to convert to an exercise room. Yet even if they can afford to, they prefer exercising in a local gym where others will also frequent. What they are doing then, is unconsciously responding to the need for a social context where they exercise alongside others.

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      It is easier to maintain a diligent and consistent training routine when you are a patron of a gym than you can ever hope for when exercising in isolation. That is the reason why the most successful bodybuilders and fitness gurus have almost always been members of a publicly-available gym and not a personal gym. Subscribing to a gym where you can train alongside others helps build a discipline, a commitment, and an innate desire to attain optimal fitness that wouldn’t be possible on your own.

      Advantages of Group Fitness Programs

      1. Transforming Competitors into Allies

      Now consider this: an acquaintance of yours seems to have been born in a gym. They have managed to chisel out a body shape that belongs to magazine covers. You respect and privately admire his or her fitness achievements, and would only wish to attain just a percentage of their success. Well, you can hate, avoid, and ignore them as you try to pursue the same end, if not better, on your own. That however, does not help as much as it would if both of you followed the same fitness program. Imagine how easy it would be for you to follow a fitness program alongside a person who motivates you and gives you a few secrets that really work. Then you could stop being competitors and become allies in pursuit of optimal fitness. As such, one of the reasons you should join group fitness is the potential to surround yourself with positive energy, where you train alongside those you respect and admire.

      2. Learning From The Team

      Having allies in a fitness program ensures that you train alongside people with whom you share a goal. Not only do you have common interests and preferences, but you are also chasing the same outcome. This means that they will probably know something you do not, and vice versa. Group fitness programs thus give you a platform to share with others, compare different approaches, and select the best routines based on results.

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      Eventually, the fitness program becomes more than finishing a few exercises, and gradually transforms into a learning opportunity towards attaining optimal fitness. You start taking fitness training seriously, and it stops being a trial and error routine, since you can now use a single training instructor and consult the most advanced manual together. As such, joining a group fitness program will help to increase the opportunity and outcomes of learning about fitness training.

      3. Building on Collective Motivation

      Exercising with a team replaces the ‘me’ perspective in fitness training with a ‘we’ perspective. After a tough day at the office, you stop saying “I don’t feel like going for exercises today,” and start saying “and we still have to go for exercises today.” It would have taken personal motivation to abide by a fitness training program if it was an individual program. However, being a team adds a collective motivation to abide by the fitness schedule, regardless of your mood. Your discipline and commitment is fired up by the collective dynamics of the group.

        4. Gaining a Team’s Psyche When Approaching Challenges

        Maintaining a devout fitness training calendar or schedule is often discouraged by numerous challenges you meet along the way. Like that time when your muscles are hurting, when you feel like your ligaments are torn and you cannot even manage to squat, let alone follow rigorous compound exercises. When something is highly recommended but you cannot even think about trying it, being a part of a group gives you the mindset to give it a go.

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        Your challenging exercises stop being an option and become part of your training goal when you are in a team. You might have joined fitness training to eliminate stress levels in your life, but even after that, the group will keep you improving. You will have to approach challenges with a team mentality and soon enough, they stop being challenges. Joining a group fitness program is perhaps the easiest route to overcoming your training fears as well as personal stress.

          5. Elevating the Value of Fitness

          Finally, joining group fitness programs elevates the priority of fitness training in your to-do list. You might desire to lose that weight or get a solid six-pack, but the cost of getting that is not reflected in your lifestyle. Group fitness training however, challenges that lifestyle to the core. You keep the time, consistency, and routine set for exercises not because you feel like, but because that is what the team has agreed upon. You will attend some sessions halfheartedly, and some you would otherwise avoid, but the outcomes will justify the team discipline. Group-based training helps make a fitness program more than a personal decision, and you embrace it in your daily routine as something that is part of your personal preferences and wishes. Soon it becomes a habit and a discipline you are used to, a state that is very difficult with personal exercise.

          In conclusion, the benefits of group fitness programs outweigh the advantages of personal training programs. Tapping into the group mentality can help you keep a disciplined diet formula, maintain training routines, and optimize fitness training in ways that would otherwise be impossible if the training was based on your choices and moods. The five benefits explained above, are only some of the advantages that justify why you should join a team-driven fitness program. When it is all said and done, you may train as a team, but the fitness you consolidate is yours and yours alone. That was your goal, after all, from the very beginning.

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          Image Credits:

          Trainer assisting group of people with stretching exercise Via Freepik, Group of people performing stretching exercise Via Freepik, Billy blanks tae bo workout Via Pixabay, Group of people performing tree-pose yoga exercise Via Freepik

          Featured photo credit: yanalya via freepik.com

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          Last Updated on August 15, 2018

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

          Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

          Video Summary

          Why is it important to train up our core strength?

          There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

          This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

          Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

          In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

          One Exercise, multiple benefits

          There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

          By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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          When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

          Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

          In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

          What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

          What will happen when you start doing planks every day

            1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

            Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

            • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
            • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
            • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
            • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

            2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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              Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

              Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

              3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

                Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

                4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

                  Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

                  A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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                  A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

                  On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

                  5. You’ll improve overall balance

                    Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                    6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                      Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                      7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                        Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                        How to hold a plank position

                        1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                        2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                        3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                        4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                        5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                        6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                        7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                        Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                        Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                          How to improve your plank time gradually

                          1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                          2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                          3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                          Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                          Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                          You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                          • Prolapse
                          • After prolapse surgery
                          • Pelvic pain conditions
                          • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                          • Previous childbirth
                          • Overweight

                          Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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