As students, we’ve heard countless times how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A big part of remaining physically fit is making the time to exercise on a regular basis. While some students regularly hear the clanking of the weight machines and treadmills, others find it much harder to find a workout regimen they can enjoy and consistently participate in. Fortunately, group exercises save the day, combating the lack of interest in individual workouts.

After my first attempt at UTM’s drop-in boot camp class, I looked like the definition of exhaustion. Burpees, suicides, planks, squat jumps—to me the class was 50 minutes of torture. Luckily for me, along for the ride were eight other less exhausted strangers, whose encouragement managed to keep my spirits high.

In a 2010 issue of the Globe and Mail, Alex Hutchinson reported that a study done by the University of Saskatchewan found, “Those who feel a greater sense of group-ness and cohesion within an exercise class are more punctual, have better attendance, and even work harder.” There have been mornings when I’d wake up and think, “I’ll pass on the gym today.” Instead, knowing I’d miss the opportunity to work out with my peers was enough to drag me out of bed and into the gym.

If you find yourself a competitive person, a group workout can be the thing you need to not only meet but also surpass your fitness goals. I knew I was somewhat competitive before going to the gym, but I didn’t realize the kind of power it had over me until I was running up and down flights of stairs at the boot camp. I found an inner strength I had never experienced before, refusing to be passed by anyone who tried.

Everyone is encouraged to go at their pace, but for those who have the energy and strength to work out but find themselves at a loss for motivation, friendly competition can make an enormous difference.

Natasha Butzow, UTM alumna and a member of the RAWC staff, recalled how intimidating the gym was when she first started university.

“Group fitness is a great place to start,” she says, adding that it makes the entire gym experience more uplifting. “Group fitness is a good place to learn new workouts and exercises that you can add to your routine when you can’t make it to class.”

Roba Elakwy, a fourth-year finance specialist, explains the kinds of workout regimens she sticks to. “I usually spend about 40 minutes on the treadmill and then move on to weights,” she says.

She prefers to work out with a partner strong enough to help her with the weights, but also enjoys the flexibility of working out alone. Elakwy explained that she hadn’t had the time to join any of the fitness classes “because the timing of the courses conflicted with [her] school work,” but she has always wanted to try them out.

Since that first class, I have returned to the boot camp on a weekly basis, gaining many new friends in the process. Drop-in group classes at the RAWC are free and range from the intense boot camp to the calm and serene Yogilates and fun Zumba workouts.

This article has been corrected.
  1. October 3, 2015 at 4 p.m.: The photo was credited to Mahmoud Sarouji instead of to Junaid Imran.
    Notice to be printed on October 5, 2015 (Volume 42, Issue 5).

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