Vigor in the Valley

Group exercise is a fun way to get fit and socialize


Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

In this photo from The Spectator’s files, the stationary bikes in the Hilltop Center’s cycling studio wait to be used. The cycling studio, along with the multi-purpose group exercise room next door, were built last year.

Working out can be lonely. Running lonesome miles or solo lifting in the gym can get repetitive and old. Shaun T. and the rest of the “Insanity” gang only act as stand-ins for exercise partners for a finite amount of time.

Thankfully the exercise gods created group exercise classes that so many love to attend, like Zumba and spin. According to, working out in groups started to gain popularity in the 1960s with the start of programs like Jazzercise.

Today, the exercise industry is booming. While an increase in popularity does create more options for athletes, it also jacks up the price of attending exercise classes. Gym memberships are becoming increasingly expensive, says CNBC.

One study conducted by surveyed 1,350 U.S. adults aged 18 to 65. They found the average respondent spent $155 per month on their health and fitness. Not everyone can afford this hefty price tag.

Group exercise classes aren’t always accessible to all abilities, either. Some do offer small modifications to movements, but many classes I’ve attended, like cycling, provide only one type of equipment. Workouts are often geared toward people who have hearing, too. I hope gyms work to provide interpreters or closed captions in the future.  

For UW-Eau Claire students, the cost barrier associated with group exercise is erased. Students are lucky to have on-campus access to classes for free. Students can choose from classes including cycling, “Butts and Guts,” Zumba and even paddleboard yoga.

I enjoy attending group exercise classes because I get a better workout when I’m with others. I feel held accountable for my actions because the instructor will notice if I decide to slack off. My friends encourage me to come to class even if I’ve had a bad day.

A good group exercise class creates a mini community and support system. When I began to attend classes on campus my first year, I was taken aback by the amount of fun I had working out with my friends. Now I understand why the 40-somethings back at my hometown YMCA pack every yoga class: Group exercise is a great way to be social and stay fit.

Neupert can be reached at [email protected].