Those of us who have experienced or taught group exercise classes know how many advantages they provide. Not only are they fun and energizing to participants, they can also be easily integrated into public spaces. Initiating these classes is an excellent strategy to foster a more active community. That said, creating high quality group community classes takes planning, especially when utilizing public outdoor fitness parks. To truly create a culture of health around these spaces, we must make sure that people understand how to use them safely and effectively. Hosting group training classes at your outdoor fitness park creates an opportunity for community members to learn proper form under the supervision of a fitness professional. It also gives them the opportunity to be surrounded by a supportive group of neighbors and friends who they can look to for motivation and accountability.
“When clients enjoy their training, they are more likely to make it a habit rather than something they have to do…” (Jett et al. 2013).
The same ACSM survey that ranked “outdoor activity” at 13 out of 20 gave “group training” a ranking of 3 out of 20 (Thompson, 2019). Put those together, and we have pure magic! In this survey, group classes are described as effective, motivational sessions for different fitness levels, with instructors teaching many types of classes and utilizing a variety of equipment.
Let’s examine the benefits of group training and how best to plan high quality community classes in an outdoor public setting.
Benefits of Exercising as a Group (Matthews, 2016)
- – Expert Guidance – puts the structure and organization of the training session into the hands of a certified professional
- – Accountability – can help participants stay consistent; pre-registration is often required for classes
- – Social Support – creates a sense of community and opportunities for social engagement
- – Variability – exposes participants to new movements and ensures a well-rounded workout
- – Fun – sets participants up for an enjoyable and interactive experience