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The Group Exercise Effect

Scientists have found that sharing your exercise experiences with others can positively influence your training – helping boost results whether you’re in the group fitness studio or sweating it out at home.

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 ultimately 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!”

Reduced body mass, lower fat body mass percentage, less total cholesterol, and elevations in oxygen consumption and lean body mass percentages were just some of the changes. On average, participants delayed the onset of cardiovascular disease by 3.6 years.

Most significantly, over the 30-week study, the majority of 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.

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 CXWORX™ 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.

Two years later, a 2019 study revealed that exercisers experience increased levels of individual enjoyment, exertion and satisfaction as a result of group exercise. This research, which evaluated 97 peoples’ group fitness experiences at the same facility over two weeks, identifies the powerful role "the group effect" plays in positively influencing our overall workout experiences – and the likelihood that we'll stick at it and come back for more.

“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.”

Of course, enjoying the buzz of working out in a group isn’t always an option.

Whether it’s because of COVID-induced lockdown or busier schedules the popularity of independent exercise using fitness apps is soaring.

While the convenience of having workouts-on-tap may be the initial drawcard, a new study suggests that fitness apps are also a great way to tap into the motivational power of others.

Researchers found that when fitness apps have an online community element, it stimulates exercisers to do more – and the exercise becomes more enjoyable too. Simple activities like sharing posts and receiving encouragement provide the social support many people need to stay motivated, explains study co-author Dr. Ivanka Prichard.

As a Village member you get access to 100+ classes per week, so there’s plenty of opportunity to sweat it out alongside your fellow members and feel the benefits of the group exercise effect.

If life gets in the way and you’re not able to make it into club, keep active wherever you are with tonnes of live and On Demand classes via the Village app.

Plus, our online community of fitness fanatics on Facebook means you can connect with like minded members for virtual motivation and support whenever you need it.

Join our Facebook Group

This piece originally appeared at lesmills.com.

Try out The Group Exercise Effect on your work team

Hovering over a desk all day isn't just a tad boring... it's doesn't half wreak havoc with your core muscles! Squashing your organs into that snazzy office attire and hunching your shoulders over the laptop isn't doing much for your posture. So, let's give you a good stretching out!

Ditch the desk, grab your colleagues and enjoy a group Personal Training session!

Avoid The Post Lunch Lull

Great for desk-eaters and those who suffer from the 3pm slump

A lunch hour workout is a great way to stretch out crumpled back muscles and bring on a boost of energy to save you retreating to an empty board room for an afternoon nap!

"We hit the gym every Friday after lunch for a group Personal Training in Ashton Moss with the team. It's a great excuse to get out of the office and perks us right up for the rest of the afternoon... just in time for Friday post work drinks!"  (Jill | Village Gym Ashton member)

Get Your Network On!

Great sales execs, socialites and those who just love to rub shoulders

Post-work networking is so last year. Working has become a workout with the latest trend to hit the fitness scene...sweatworking.

Forget meeting over lunch or after work drinks, business professionals have found that talking shop whilst burning calories has become a great way to integrate work into their fitness routine.

Sweatworking is a great way to get your colleagues bonding, and is fast becoming a popular choice for teambuilding, as employers strive to inject more fitness into the workplace

Off Peak Personal Training 

Great for freelancers, shift workers and cost savers

If you're more flexible between the nine to five, the gym floor is often much quieter during the daytime, making it a great time for freelancers or shift workers to hit the gym.

You'll get the buzz of a group personal training session, whilst maximising use of a much quiter gym floor. Number crunchers will also love the reduced cost of an Off Peak membership! 

"I met my fellow freelancers in a shared office and we now enjoy regular group personal training sessions in the afternoons when they gym is relatively quiet. This revs us up for the rest of the day so we can get back to our desks and get our creative minds switched on for the rest of the evening." (Tim | Village Gym Hull member)

Personal Training For Business Events

Great for teambuilding, charity events and releasing tension

Whether you've signed your company up for the London Marathon, this year's Race For Life or team Tough Mudder challenge, our Personal Trainers will help you and your colleagues prepare for a charity event, team challenge or fundraiser.

We'll create an exercise plan that targets the key areas you'll need to improve your running technique, cardio fitness, strengthen the leg muscles and improve posture to make running easier. We'll assess each of your individual fitness levels to ensure your group workout matches your abilities, whilst pushing each of you to improve your overall performance and stamina. Think of us as your training Team Leader! Let's GO team!

Group Personal Training For Business Beginners

Great for gym newbies, office newbies or nervous types

Just joined our Village Gym community? If you're not too sure on where to begin, round up a few of your colleagues for a group personal training session. We'll educate you as a group on how to use the gym equipment and which bits of kit you should be using to achieve your own fitness goals. It's a great way to get introduced to a new fitness regime, without the daunting feeling of hitting the gym floor alone. Plus, it's a great way to enjoy a little extra curricular bonding time with your teammates!

Expect to cover some resistance work, exercises to get your heart pumping, and plenty of opportunity to fire questions at your PT. 

Follow it up with a refreshing drink afterwards in the Village Pub for a taste of our social scene!

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