Why group exercise is the sweet spot of the Rec (his title)

Nick Kondyles

In the past two years, I’ve struggled put in more than a half hour at the gym. I don’t know if it was lack of knowledge or ability to stay there longer. I know I’m not the only one to walk into the weight room and feel too intimidated, not to mention overwhelmed by what I saw there.

It was by accident that last year, I stumbled onto a yoga class for a class project and yet found that I stayed there for a full hour without noticing it. Next to wasps, group exercises used to be my greatest fear. Ever since quitting karate in the fourth grade, I was always terrified of meeting the eyes of another group exercise instructor; I was convinced I’d be met with instant judgment, certain death or both. 

My mother started going to Zumba and then Yoga. Then my course instructed us to change our behavior with consistent rewards and document it. I borrowed one of the Yoga mats from home and decided to start going to the free classes. What I saw there was a group of individuals going at their own paces in an incredibly less hectic fashion than in the weight room. For one, no one really asks you: “Hey, are you almost done with that?” 

It was one of the first times working out that I felt considerably less self-conscious (besides when the rec center is near empty) and actually focused on the task at hand: modeling stretches while watching my breath and taking my time all the while. 

Working at Grand Valley’s Rec Center has gotten a lot easier over the last few years. The expansion of the weight training room is good for most since it aligns with the expansion of the student population as of late. But for those who maybe don’t always find it worth their while to try and left on their own, I am telling you that group exercise is for you.

I am not selling, I am telling you that it does not matter if you don’t like big groups, you hardly even notice them. You spend an hour, either through cycling, a series of yoga poses and deep breathing or dancing, in that room and hardly ever feel wasted. Instead, you walk out feeling elated, like a 50LB weight has been lifted off your chest and want to jump for joy.

I know this because it didn’t stop there, at the yoga sessions. There are multiple free group exercise slots around campus. Namely, Yoga on Mondays, Zumba on Tuesdays and something called Groove on Wednesdays. There are also Yoga and Zumba classes on Sundays, what a package! If you want to go pro, you can buy the group exercise pass but I’m no pro. 

Bottom line, you do not have to feel restricted to the bench press to get your workout in. Why not try out a new group exercise class, the hidden gem of the gym if you ask me, that you haven’t before? You could create some oxytocin, fellowship and restore some much needed stress relief and bodily reprieve from classes all at once. I guess I am selling. Group exercise classes. You should go. Speaking from personal experience, it makes that trip to the Rec highly worth it. That’s my two cents on the matter.

This doesn’t by any means you should feel you need to adhere to the schedule and go every time, never work out alone. Everyone needs their individual work out grind but running a mile outside and finding exercise outside the rec center can be pretty tough, especially in winter months.