Exercise: “Yeah!” for some, and “Ugh” for others. The dichotomy among people’s attitudes toward exercise is clear. From the obsessive, early-morning rooster crowd (that arrive to the gym several minutes before the doors are open), to the people whose friends have to lure them to the gym with promises of post-workout nachos and margaritas, motivation seems to be the issue. To help us answer this age-old question of “How do I get myself to the gym?” I enlisted the help of local certified fitness professionals Kerry Barton and Lynne Champney to help me.
Lynne Champney is a seasoned educator and fitness junkie with over a decade of experience in the classrooms of the Concord School District. In addition to her teaching gig, she is the Group Exercise Coordinator at 43 Degrees North, with a staff of more than 20 rock-star instructors. By day she uses her expertise in teaching first-graders, by night she quickly transitions into an energetic and motivating Zumba, strength and group fitness instructor.
“Exercising and coaching in groups are truly my favorite form of exercise,” she says. “I love the variety of small and large group fitness as well as the community aspect. Not to mention the friendly competition that can go with it!”
When asked about the importance of exercising with a partner or group of people, she explains that exercising with a team or partner brings accountability and encourages a sense of community. We are all stronger together. Teamwork and partner work opens up opportunities for fun, laughter and social interaction. She says she looks forward to seeing her gym family after a day at school.
Being a group fitness professional is hard work. Some days you have to motivate a bunch of people who may rather be at home on the couch. Lynne has many tips and tricks she uses to get everyone motivated. Using her love of chatting with people, she is able to keep everyone at high energy. “I keep my classes and trainings fun and am sure to make it user friendly for every single person! My goal is to get your heart pumping, be sure you have fun doing it and help you feel like part of the gang. Together we are all stronger as a team!”
Group activity may not be a new concept, but it has certainly seen massive international up-trends over the last 20 years with rapidly rising numbers in indoor cycling, aerobic and dance-based classes and the emergence of CrossFit and its tribe mentality. Founder of Retrofit Rob McGillivray states, “I believe it to be a key indicator that working out in a motivational pack or using it as a tool to enhance internal or external competitive performance is fast becoming the preferred form of exercise.”
So now you’ve gotten yourself to the gym, but how do we keep you coming back? It’s all about the “A” word no one likes to talk about – accountability. Bottom line is, if you have to wake up early in the morning, you’re not as likely to skip your workout if you’re going to a group, as opposed to working out in the gym by yourself (can we say gym guilt?).
Whether it’s an instructor-led class at a gym or fitness center or an informal group of exercises bonded by mutual interests and affection, participation is spurred by the group dynamic. And once you’re there, you’ll probably work hard to keep up with the group.
“With group exercise classes, you have other people’s energy driving you,” says fitness professional Kerry Barton. Barton, a 25-year veteran of the fitness industry, personal trainer and former cheerleader, explains working out in a group helps with accountability. Kerry has always had a passion for group fitness dating back to her college days when she was an avid stepper. When Kerry hits the traditional gym floor, she gets bored and can’t stay focused. She suggests people try a class surrounded by people with similar goals. Over time, it feels like a team and you inspire each other to push harder in your workouts. Working out with others is the perfect way to hold yourself accountable. Being with others builds connections and it feels good to be missed when you aren’t there.
As a team training coordinator and coach at 43 Degrees North, Kerry takes peoples’ health seriously. She is always at class early with lights on, music blaring and equipment ready to go. She methodically prepares multiple versions of class so she has an instant modification for every participant. Kerry does a mix of modeling and coaching while walking around the room with her infectious smile providing feedback to keep members injury-free.
If you’ve never tried a group exercise class before, don’t knock it until you try it. Kerry emphatically says give it a try. Between the knowledgeable instructor, upbeat music, safe workout environment and all the people in the class, there is no other way to exercise in her book. She also suggests arriving to class a little early, letting the instructor know you are a first-timer. The instructor will give you a little extra TLC and provide modifications when needed. Her philosophy: Everyone can be successful in any group fitness class.
(Crystal Reynolds is an owner at 43 Degrees North Athletic Club.)