Jane Fonda meet Linda Hamilton; group fitness classes build great guns!

Does getting in shape top your list of back to school resolutions? Know how important strength training is to changing your body but unsure of where to start? Intimidated by gyms and weight rooms?

Look no further; group fitness classes are a great place to begin your strength training journey.

strength training for women

No longer just a place to get a good, choreographed, cardiovascular workout, aerobic studios are THE place for women looking to learn about strength training in a supportive, non-judgmental, primarily female environment!

In addition to grape vines and step touches, today’s group fitness classes often include weight training, core conditioning and functional exercises. With names like Body Sculpt, Power Core and Athletic Training, these classes can help you get leaner, stronger, more defined and yes, build great guns!

Benefits of participating in group fitness classes over starting out in the weight room?

  • Groups have great energy
  • The music is uplifting and regulates the speed of the workout
  • Classes tend to be primarily female
  • You’ll learn to properly use a variety of strength training tools
  • Every class will be different (this is important; ‘muscle confusion’ leads to results)
  • You’ll meet like-minded people who will become your new friends and training buddies

Ultimately, the quality of the class (and the speed with which your guns will appear), depends on who’s teaching it.

Ideally, your group strength training instructor will;

  • Be knowledgable about weight training
  • Demonstrate a variety of levels or progressions for each exercise
  • Tell you how the workout will be structured, allowing you to choose the right weight for the number of repetitions and sets she expects you to perform
  • Be safety-conscious, with respect to both equipment and exercise form
  • Spend most of the class coaching and correcting participants’ form, rather than focusing on her own workout

And most important, when she sees that you’re ready to step into the weight room (I promise, you’ll get there), she’ll celebrate your decision to leave the comfort of the class and venture out on your own!

Do you participate in group fitness classes?

What are your favourite types of class?

NB. This essay originally appeared on the Skinny Ms. blog but was inadvertently left out of the archives during the website’s re-design. I’m re-posting it here because (1) I think it’s a good read 🙂 and  (b) it needs a permanent home!


  1. Laurie Mackeson says:

    “Muscle confusion leads to results” so do other things. Progression is “also” about expecting more (over a unit of time). “Confusion” has benefits over more “repeated” styles of routines IF it works more of the body. I I had more money I would Defineately get involved in group sessions. Being confident (with ones body/mind) in public is one of the reasons is do what I do. Good article!

  2. and LINDA?
    completely the reason I ever started working out, too.
    MIzMiz recently posted…S.L.A.P.: the power of a personal catchphrase.My Profile

  3. Of course I could not agree more that group fitness classes offer an enhanced experience for exercisers! I even recommend them for people who have the goal to be just in the gym on the weights as they can learn exercises, form, technique, and organizing principles from the group strength class that can help them on their own outside the group setting. http://funandfit.org/all-sizes-welcome-fitness-pros-want-you-in-their-classes-and-clubs/
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…The Ultimate Playlist of Your Fit LifeMy Profile

    • I love it when my group fit participants start to move into the gym. Especially when they hire me to be their personal trainer!

  4. Yes – I love group fitness classes! It’s nice to do something different and let someone else be responsible for coming up with my workout for the day. I take strength training classes at the YMCA occasionally, as well as a yoga class.
    Zarah recently posted…Pat-a-cakeMy Profile

    • Hmm, didn’t think about the ‘letting someone else be responsible for my workout’ angle. Perhaps I need to take somebody else’s group fitness class!

  5. Hi Tamara,

    I think group fitness classes are the best for many reasons. First of all, as you pointed out, we can get support from other members. Second, it is really fun and you can meet lots of new people. And third, it keeps you going because you want to accomplish what others have accomplished before you.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted…How Do I Tell My Teenage Daughter She Needs to Lose Weight?My Profile

    • You got it! Even after 20 odd years of participating in and teaching group fit, I still mind it motivating and exciting!

  6. I think you already know the answer to whether this introvert does group classes. 😉 But your points are valid, and I think group classes are a great way to get people motivated who might otherwise not be so inclined, not to mention all of the other benefits you listed.
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…The Seneca Scourge And A Willy Wonka SongMy Profile

    • Ha, ha! Yes, I know, group fitness is not your thing. Someday, when I get my act together and videotape a class, you can join in!

  7. I so wanted Linda Hamilton’s arms! 🙂

    I think so many love the group atmosphere & actually need it for motivation. Teacher is key & I know you are right there at the top! 🙂

    I took classes in my young days but I am sort of my own person, do my own thing now.. 🙂
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Leg Workout; Gardein Giveaway WinnerMy Profile


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