Dear OWH: Why should I avoid group fitness?

Group Fitness: Exciting, Encouraging, Not for Everyone- One size does not fill all.

5 min read

Group fitness classes are all the rage as of late and how could they not be? Options abound with energetic, performative instructors all pushing you and the rest of your sweaty classmates to your limits. Accountability, excitement, and fitness. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it depends.

Fitness Guru vs. Budding Fitness Enthusiasts

Classes like TAYLOR SWIFT AND HER EXES at SoulCycle (completely real class, by the way) or Tire Flipping at CrossFit R’ Us (that class is not real, by the way) are excellent for those fitness gurus with an adequate base strength and proper form and technique. However, for those of us who are not able to hold Utthita Parsvakonasana for 15 minutes, bike 8 miles at once, go hard in a high energy dance-off, or throw a 10 pound bag of sand like a football, group fitness classes may not only be a poor choice, they could potentially be a dangerous one.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see a patient who injured themselves in a group fitness class here in the Beverly Hills Posture office. Women who just gave birth and are wanting to get back into shape. Someone trying to ditch a few pounds. A Couch-to-5k enthusiast looking to fulfill a New Year’s Resolution. These people have great, smart, healthy intentions. That’s why it is particularly upsetting and frustrating when a group fitness class leaves them injured and unable to perform.

For anyone pursuing a new or rejuvenated interest in getting into shape, it is important to take the appropriate steps, paying attention to your unique needs, limitations, and strengths.

One size does not fit all.

The major issue with most group fitness classes is that the same exercise program is assigned to everyone, regardless of individual needs, ability, pre-existing conditions, or baseline knowledge and capabilities. Exercises are not catered to unique, individualistic goals and restrictions. Instructors often have little training in body mechanics and correct functional movement and are usually not trained in how to diagnose any potential pre-existing conditions that could lead to injury.

While ultra encouraging and generally knowledgeable about fitness, instructors usually do not know how to prescribe specific exercises to cater to individual conditions. (Of course, there are some exceptions, but this is overwhelmingly true for the average group fitness class instructor.) Not only are the best exercises skipped, students are often participating in moves that are not good for their unique bodies, putting them at risk for injury and re-injury.

The exciting, high energy group dynamic poses a few more drawbacks as well. Considering the student to instructor ratio, there is generally insufficient attention to correct form. In addition, the group often ends up controlling the pace, causing people to push themselves beyond what is best for them personally.

Someday soon, but maybe not today.

If you have existing pain, would like to get into shape without risking injury, or want to obtain and maintain an active lifestyle, a combination of a personalized exercise program developed by a doctor at BHP, chiropractic care, sports medicine acupuncture, massage, nutritional and lifestyle guidance can help you achieve a pain-free, fit, active, and healthy life. Once you develop a solid foundation, group fitness classes may very well be an excellent option for you! You could be Zumba dancing and tossing tires with the best of them. But, until then, opt for more individualized, tailored attention to get you to that “New-Leaf” sort of health you’ve been craving. Trust us. Your future self will thank you.

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