I’ve never been that into group fitness. I’m simply more of a solo exerciser. But starting my career managing corporate fitness centers, it became clear to me very quickly that my personal philosophy about where group classes fit into my routine was counter to a sizable minority of members in the facilities I supported.
There is something about that group dynamic that works for participants. Whether it’s the energy of others, the instructor who tells you what to do, or the music that moves your feet, something draws participants in and keeps them coming back.
Mixed Adherence and Retention Results
Researchers have long been studying variables that can influence exercise adherence; and to date, outcomes from various studies have been in conflict. For example, the S.W.E.A.T. study on women ages 40 to 65 showed that group-based exercise in a “center” setting compared with home-based individual exercise netted better retention. But other research indicates that home-based interventions demonstrated better adherence over time.
We do know that positive social support from both staff and peers directly in the exercise setting is important, and group classes provide a built-in social network. Also, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) polled gym members for their primary areas of participation and found that about 43% of gym members participate in group exercise.
NIFS Poll Shows Benefits of Group Fitness Classes
Anecdotally, I know of several individuals who have been able to dramatically improve their health primarily through group classes. So when we polled our NIFS corporate group fitness class participants about their experiences with our classes, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results.
We polled all employees at our client locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we’re offering group fitness classes. In some cases, we’re providing only classes at a location, whereas in other locations we’re managing the corporate fitness center along with providing classes. Here’s what we learned:
- Just over one-third of responders indicated that NIFS group fitness classes were their primary source of exercise through the week.
- Almost 80% indicated that they exercise more often because of the group fitness classes available at their office.
- Roughly three quarters of responders noted personal health improvements since they started taking group classes with NIFS instructors.
- A full 96% indicated that the classes at their worksite were a definite employee perk.
The numbers tell us that group fitness is still a fantastic way for employers to create exercise opportunities for their employees. It’s a low-cost (or no-cost if employees pay) option that doesn’t require much equipment or space, and it can net positive health outcomes for employees. It just may earn you loyalty points as well.