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If you're skipping workouts, group fitness might be the answer

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

There's strength in numbers

There are lots of ways to get plugged into a fitness group — you can join a group exercise class at your gym, a community running group, a boot camp, an online community, a fitness hashtag on Instagram or a Facebook page. Or you can simply meet up with friends to work out together.

The key is to find a group solution that works for you, then take advantage of these benefits.

1. You're more likely to push yourself

Competition is a powerful motivator. Sarina Jain, the creator of the Masala Bhangra fitness routine says that groups motivate you "to push yourself to do as well as, if not better than, the members of your group. You are going to motivate each other to go all out for that last bit you have until you've exhausted all your energy."

2. It's more cost-effective

Personal training is expensive. Group training is a way to take advantage of the knowledge of leading experts without emptying your bank account in the process. Lacey Stone, a celebrity trainer who has trained Jessica Alba and Amanda Seyfried says, "When I teach my exclusive boot camp in Los Angeles, it only costs each participant $40 per workout, whereas I normally charge $200 for a private one-on-one session. Or if someone takes my class at Flywheel, it only costs $25 per hour. These group experiences are a huge bargain for access to high-end trainers."

3. It's a great place to make friends

Bonding over a hard-hitting sweat session is a real thing. And the relationships you build during group often extend into serious friendships. Stone emphasizes, "One of my favorite things ever is when I see people from my class hanging out with each other. That makes working out even more fun because it becomes social. Instead of going to get a drink, my students say, 'Wanna come to Lacey's class and have a smoothie afterwards?'"

4. It's less mentally taxing

You're busy. Between work, family and social obligations, why would you want to tax your brain any further? The beauty of group workouts is that someone else comes up with an effective routine, and all you have to do is follow along. Sara Haley, the creator of Sweat Unlimited and a group fitness instructor at Equinox in Santa Monica points out, "The mere fact that you don't have to plan or figure out your own workout makes the experience go by so much faster."

This doesn't mean you won't have to push yourself mentally during the workout, but you won't walk aimlessly from station to station, dinking around with weights, sets and reps, not quite sure what to do next.

5. You're with people who want you at your best

There will be days and weeks when you don't feel motivated, or you experience an injury, or other areas of your life implode, leaving you stressed out and off-track. Being part of a fitness group can be a great reminder that taking care of yourself is a priority.

Dr. Caroline Cederquist, weight-loss expert and medical director of BistroMD adds that many people thrive with connection. "I remember when I started my solo medical practice and still worked part time. Creating a fitness group in my office early in the morning was a real lifeline. On days that I may have been tired, I had to get up — otherwise my friends would be locked out of the gym. As much as it helped them to be part of the group, it helped me more. By not ignoring my self-care, I was stronger, more resilient and better able to handle stress."

6. There is knowledge in numbers

Kayla Itsines, founder of The Bikini Body Training Company, points out that one of the most powerful benefits of fitness groups is the knowledge provided by those in the group. "If the group is taught by a professional, or even if the group is sprinkled with a few well-informed attendees, the potential to absorb new information is huge. Information on exercises, nutrition plans and overall fitness concepts can help people find what works best for them, as well as avoid making mistakes."

You can also seek out a specifically designed group to meet your needs. Dr. Sean M. Wells, D.P.T., P.T., O.C.S., A.T.C./L., C.S.C.S. and the fitness expert for bistroMD drives this home by pointing out that "Group fitness programs can help target a large group of people hoping to lose weight or gain strength... or group programs can work to help people with multiple sclerosis or balance disorders." If you have a specific goal, or a specific physical concern, seek out groups of other individuals who share your goal or concern.

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