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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 13, 2020

          12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

          12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

          As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

          1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

          I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

          Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

          Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

          2. What is the purpose of meditation?

          The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

          It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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          Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

          In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

          You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

          This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

          The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

          Less Physical, More Psychological

          Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

          This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

          The First Benefit of Meditation

          The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

          1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
          2. Relaxation of the body

          Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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          Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

          That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

          When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

          When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

          Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

          Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

          This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

          Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

          Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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          This benefit takes you to the second one.

          The Second Benefit of Meditation

          While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

          1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
          2. Observance
          3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
          4. Patience

          Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

          You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

          This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

          1. Energy

          Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

          2. Observance

          The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

          3. Peacefulness

          Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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          4. Patience

          The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

          The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

          Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

          Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

          The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

          • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
          • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
          • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
          • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
          • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
          • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

          These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

          Final Thoughts

          Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

          Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

          Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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          Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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