Are Group Fitness Classes Effective?

When it comes to crushing your personal bests and improving fitness, the question of going solo or going with friends is always up for debate. If you're new to the gym, this question may be burning in your mind. Well, the jury is in!

New research shows that when we work out in a group, we are far more likely to stick to exercise compared to if we go it alone.

A new study reveals why! Before we delve into the science, for those of you who are completely new to the fitness world, you may be wondering;

What is Group Fitness Training?

Group fitness training is exactly as it sounds; exercising with a group of people. Usually, people will gravitate towards group classes that focus on an area of exercise they have a particular interest in. For instance, Zumba and dance fitness classes are fairly popular for newcomers - these are considered group fitness training sessions.

Let's now delve into why group fitness is so effective!

The Historic Study on Group Fitness Effectiveness

Back in 2011, Dr Jinger Gottschall and a team at Penn State University set out to explore how group fitness could nurture a long-term love of exercise and drive the health benefits necessary to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease.   

The 30-week Get Fit Together study started with 25 sedentary individuals spending an initial six-week period “dipping their toes” into fitness. They then built up to a six-day-a-week exercise schedule, doing a variety of Les Mills™ workouts that mirrored the Physical Activity Guidelines for Fitness.

“The gradual introduction meant that instead of feeling sore from overworking unfit muscles and giving up, the group actually enjoyed their path into exercise,” says Gottschall. “And the results were awesome!”

an effective group fitness class


Attendees experienced decreases in body mass, fat body mass percentage, and total cholesterol, along with increases in oxygen consumption and lean body mass percentages. On average, they postponed the commencement of cardiovascular disease by 3.6 years.

Most significantly, over the 30-week study, 20 out of 25 study participants never missed a workout – a compliance rate of 98.8 percent – almost unheard of in exercise studies. Gottschall says, such a high level of commitment highlights how combining a steady start with the support of others can work wonders.

More Recent Studies About Group Fitness

Fast forward to 2017, and Dr Dayna Yorks from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine provided more evidence that there’s strength in numbers. This 12-week study found that those who did Les Mills Core™ group workouts scored significantly higher in terms of stress reduction and physical, mental, and emotional quality of life compared to those people who worked out alone. You can learn more about how group workouts improve mental and physical well-being here.

In 2019, there was another study supporting the idea that exercisers experience increased levels of individual enjoyment, exertion and satisfaction as a result of group exercise.

In addition, evaluating 97 people and their group fitness experience over two weeks, it became even more evident that “the group effect” plays a powerful role in terms of positively influencing our overall workout experiences - as well as the likelihood that we’ll stick at it and come back for more.


are group fitness classes effective

“What our findings show is that we really are social animals when it comes to working out,” says Les Mills, Head of Research Bryce Hastings. “When you maximize the group effect, this leads to a high level of what we’ve termed ‘groupness’. And the higher the level of groupness, the more we see increases in a person’s enjoyment, satisfaction and exertion.”

You can maximize your training and experience the motivational power “the group effect” by finding a LES MILLS workout near you or check out the various timetabled classes at your local Village Gym, from H2OFit to BodyPump to Pilates, we've got you covered!

Want a more tailored and direct support for your fitness journey? Sign up for Village Advance and work with our fitness experts towards your personal fitness goal. Get started today!

FAQs on Group Fitness Classes

What is the most popular group fitness class?

When it comes to popularity, quite a few options present themselves as favourites for gym-goers. Dance classes such as Zumba and Les Mills BodyJam are popular options. Our indoor cycling classes, yoga classes, pilates classes and Les Mills Grit cardio and strength classes are also popular choices.

What are the benefits of group exercises?

As the studies discuss, people who attend group exercise sessions tend to be more motivated and more consistent with their exercise. They also see positive psychological benefits such as an increased mood. Group exercises also allow for socialising, which is another great mood booster!

Is group personal training worth it?

Absolutely! Group personal training is a great way to gain one-on-one advice from a fitness industry professional without the expensive costs you'll incur by hiring a sole personal trainer. Training with one of our PTs, versus by yourself, will also help you achieve your fitness goals sooner.

Is it enough to do personal training 2 or 3 times a week?

This answer will greatly depend on you, your physical ability, your fitness levels, your starting point and what you want to achieve. However, it ‘s generally best to have around two or three sessions a week with a personal trainer, if you are serious about your fitness and your goals.

Do beginners need a PT?

If you are a complete beginner to fitness, a personal trainer can be an invaluable resource for you. They can teach you everything you could need to know about fitness, and how to achieve your own personal goals. They can also help you set realistic goals, keep your accountable, and help you get into shape (or into better shape).


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