BY MARK GRESHAM-SEPTEMBER 19, 2023
Group fitness classes have gained tremendous popularity in recent years, becoming a go-to option for many individuals seeking a fun and exciting environment to exercise together. These classes foster social interaction, competition, and a sense of community, contributing to their attraction and growth. However, as the group workout scene continues to expand, it becomes increasingly important to discuss and recognize the limitations of these class settings. In this article, we aim to shed light on these disadvantages, bringing attention to the importance of correcting biomechanical issues when it comes to your health and fitness. Overview of Group Classes A group class is an organized exercise session typically led by one or two trainers with a class size ranging from 5 to 20 people. Group classes have been around for decades, tracing back to the 1960s and 1970s. Nowadays, group classes have grown and diversified, including various styles such as yoga, indoor cycling, dance aerobics, martial arts, Pilates, boot camps, and more. People enjoy group classes for reasons such as socializing, competition, motivation, accountability, and as a cost-effective solution.
Top 4 Disadvantages of Group Classes Group classes can generally be categorized into two groups: aerobic fitness classes (e.g., F45, cycling, boot camp) and recovery/corrective classes (e.g., yoga, Pilates, meditation). While some classes may incorporate elements of both, they often fall short of addressing the full spectrum of a healthy activity. While previous FP articles have delved into the limitations of these modalities, our goal here is to zoom out and examine the limitations of the class setting itself.
1) Wrong Priorities A significant issue with group classes is that participants often attend classes to compete with their peers or for the socialization aspect. While competition and social interaction are not inherently negative, they become problematic when clients' motivations for group classes become skewed. Many businesses in the Health & Fitness industry need to keep their clients happy in order to continue operation and build a good reputation. Trainers, whether it be yoga, personal training, CrossFit, or similar, are becoming increasingly more willing to offer their clients a 'positive vibe' that creates recurring business far too often at the expense of their clients' joints and health. Pushing through a movement to keep up with a friend or to fit in is not worth the dysfunctional adaptations you will likely be putting on yourself. Another contributing reason a client might choose to do these group exercise classes is cost. It can often be more affordable per hour to be in a group setting than personal training. Sure, sometimes this may be the case but trading quality and value in hope to save some money is not a good trade when it comes to your health. Would you choose the cheapest mechanic available to maintain your family car or would you look for the best value you possibly can to keep your car running and safe for as long as possible?
2) Little Focus on the Individual Another disadvantage of group exercise classes is the limited emphasis placed on the individual. With a large group class size, instructors face the challenge of managing the group, leaving little opportunity for individual participants to receive extra guidance. This can lead to participants pushing through workouts to fit in, increasing the risk of injury or unknowingly reinforcing poor movement patterns.
3) Lack of Individualized Programming Group classes typically follow pre-planned routines that do not consider participants' individual dysfunctions, needs, and limitations. For example, Some clients may have restricted ribcage movement, while some may have pelvic dysfunctions like being stuck in an anterior pelvic tilt. By putting everyone through the same routine, clients are going to be stuck doing general movements over focusing on their unique dysfunctions.
4) Neglecting Fundamental Movement Patterns Outside of functional patterns, none of these modalities account for the variables needed to create healthy humans, even in one-on-one settings with a practitioner. When you add in the other factors of these group classes, participants are going to draw the short straw every time. I have linked two articles below that dive deeper on this as this is what is separating Functional Patterns from the rest. For example, CrossFit/F45 is absolutely not Functional training. Read these articles to learn more.
Results using Functional Patterns Training Don't settle for anything less than real, long-term results. Does the Good Outweigh the Bad? While companionship, fun, social interaction, and competition are all important, it is crucial to question whether we need to recklessly push our bodies to the edge to achieve these things. When it comes to these conventional group classes, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. Should a low-cost option come at the expense of low-quality training? Absolutely not. Speaking of poor quality training, let's take crossfit for example. The rate of injury in crossfit is so high; in a study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Researchers surveyed 132 crossfit athletes. They found that 97 of the crossfit athletes reported injuries while participating in crossfit, with a total of 186 injuries reported in total with 7% requiring surgery. This is ridiculous and still only looking at the more short-term effects of this type of training, the long-term effects this type of training will have on the human body are detrimental. Okay, So How Should You Train? What are some solutions to these discussed problems? When looking for a training modality, we need a clear objective, then we want clear results showcasing that objective. This is where Functional Patterns really shines; we have been showing results in changing human structures for years, from making athletes perform better to improving neurological conditions and everything in between, how to start? First, it is crucial to learn the basics, starting with the Functional Patterns 10-week course is a good start. This course is a very easy to follow online course. Each week a new week of corrective movements will be unlocked, allowing you to pace yourself and learn the basics. After you have completed the ten-week course, move on to the Functional Patterns Functional Training System. This is the next level and where you will really start to get a better understanding of how you should train your body. These courses are easy to follow and can even be done with a friend or family member. Additionally, Functional Patterns has a global community of like-minded individuals who can provide support and make the learning process more enjoyable. Conclusion In conclusion, it is evident that the prevailing group class modalities overlook the significance of addressing your dysfunctional movement patterns and are not in the right environment to account for the variables needed to really help people, which will result in long-term issues and pain. While these classes may offer social interaction, fun, and immediate gratification, they fail to address the core elements necessary for building a healthy and functional body. Embarking on the Functional Patterns journey with the 10-week course is a crucial first step towards understanding your body, addressing biomechanical dysfunctions, and cultivating optimal health. References
Hak PT, Hodzovic E, Hickey B. The nature and prevalence of injury during CrossFit training. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Nov 22. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000318. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 24276294.
Articles discussing functional training/ Functional patterns: