Group training classes have been hailed as the next big thing in exercise, not only by fitness trainers but also by medical experts, with the American College of Sports Medicine listing it as one of 2017’s top fitness trends.

People Push Harder in Groups

While group workouts are not new, studies have shown that people working out in a group tend to push themselves harder in a competitive atmosphere. This is because when members of a group fitness class are focused on the most active participants as targets to beat, it forms a “social ratchet where everyone increased everyone else’s activity levels”, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in a recent study.

Working Out Together Builds Bonds

Jogging together builds bonds

Even when not working out in a competitive environment, exercising in a group setting can offer various advantages and benefits. “The introduction of group workplace health activities motivates us to adopt a healthy lifestyle and also creates bonding opportunities for colleagues to interact with one another,” says Ms Tsu May Ling, a finance executive with National Healthcare Group (NHG) Diagnostics.

NHG Diagnostics has a S.H.a.P.E (Stay Healthy and Power-up Everyday) committee that organises workplace health activities in NHG Diagnostics centres at least once a month. The group workouts began when some of the staff started individual exercise groups. With the support of management, time was allocated each month to promote workplace health in NHG Diagnostics HQ.

Workout Buddies Provide Motivation and Support

Common reasons for quitting a fitness programme when exercising alone include a lack of drive and boredom. Regular workouts in the same group provide peer motivation, as members and workout buddies can encourage each other and achieve fitness goals together.

Besides motivating each other, there are many other benefits of group exercise. For example, certain fitness activities such as biking and trekking are safer when done in a group, as members look out for one another and offer help or training assistance when needed.

“It takes double the discipline to persevere when working out alone to achieve a fitness goal,” says Mr Lawrence Lin, co-organiser and planner of Braddell Heights Runners, a 400-member-strong community running group.

Regular workouts in the same group provide peer motivation, as members encourage one another to accomplish their objectives. “You can pair up with buddies and track performance. It also gets you into the momentum to exercise for the long run,” adds Mr Lin.

Camaraderie is likely to form over time, as in the case of the NHG Diagnostics staff. Besides workplace health activities, some have set up group chats to initiate team-bonding activities outside of work, including laser tag, hiking, and escape games.

Choose from a Variety of Group Exercises

Cycling outdoors is one of the many group exercises

There are many choices when it comes to working out in groups. Traditional formats include aerobics, dance, and Pilates. More recently, fitness groups and trainers have brought workouts outdoors —an open environment makes workout time feel less routine.

Such group exercise classes include boot camps at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, yoga at the Padang and even stroller walking at the Sports Hub. Some of the many activities organised by the NHG Diagnostics S.H.a.P.E committee include golf workshops, treetop walks, Muay Thai classes, healthy cooking lessons, KpopX Fitness (dance workouts performed to K-pop songs), as well as health talks.

Over at the HQ, they also arrange monthly workplace fitness sessions for its staff at Nexus@ one-north, with activities ranging from yoga and badminton to brisk walks and resistance band workouts. Other health-related programmes include the NHG Diagnostics ACTIVE Day, annual staff health screening and lifestyle survey.

Participate in National Programmes

In addition, the staff are also encouraged to take part in national fitness programmes such as the ongoing National Steps Challenge, where participants clock around a few thousand steps per day.

So, if you are still having trouble working up a sweat alone, maybe it’s time to consider joining a group to meet new people and new workout partners.

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