Some of us love the long, solitary run, but the rest of us prefer to exercise as part of a group. It makes sense—we are social animals, after all. And after a long day at the office, group workouts can get our hearts pumping. They also deliver the jolt of motivation (not to mention friendly competition) that keeps us working that much harder at the gym.
We may even be hardwired for group exercise. In a study conducted by scientists at Oxford's Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, university rowers performed the same rowing machine workout either alone or as part of a group. After each workout, those who exercised as a group were found to have significantly higher endorphin levels.
The reason? Researchers believed that shared goals—like winning a race or reaching the top of an imaginary hill in Spinning class--and exercising in synchronization have an effect on the release of endorphins.
What this means: Getting your butt to the gym is actually half the battle. Once you're in the group class, you can let Mother Nature help with the other half.
Fitness Classes and Regimens
For those who can't choose between treadmills and dumbbells, there's circuit training - a series of aerobic exercises and resistance training performed in rapid succession.
Forza is a cardio and strength-building workout that centers on the use of an ersatz sword. During Forza, lunges and parries activate the muscles of the arms, legs, and core.
In plyometrics, jumping jacks, push-ups, and lunges are enhanced with the addition of challenging movements, like peddling your feet back and forth from a push-up position.
Pole dancing workouts rely on slow movements off the pole to stretch and lengthen the body, followed by twirling and twisting on the metal pole to build upper body and core strength.
In the late 1980s, cyclist Johnny G. Goldberg invented spinning as a way to train for races in the off-season. Spinning classes have since become a trendy form of exercise for athletes and non-athletes alike.
The Tracy Anderson Method
The Tracy Anderson Method workout is broken up into two segments -- half is dedicated to aerobic dance and the rest is reserved for strength training and stretching.
Invented by Columbian fitness instructor Alberto "Beto" Perez, Zumba is an energetic workout regimen that combines dance and aerobic movement with the musical beats of salsa and meringue.