Life is like a box of chocolates…I should know, I ate most of them!

Did you know, research shows that members who participate in gym only activities are 56% more likely to struggle to maintain activity adherence compared to those who include group exercise classes as part of their routine? These statistics come from The Retention People (TRP) and I for one have had my mind changed in the perception of group exercise and how it can really provide that extra bit of ‘umph’ during your journey through fitness.

I absolutely pride myself on being an advocate and ambassador of maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle with every gym or fitness facility that I have worked for, as this passion stems from quite a unique start in life!

My journey through fitness began aged 15 when my Mum encouraged me to start doing something for myself. I had always been a keen swimmer and rugby player, but food had gotten the better of me which led to a 38-inch waist aged 12-13 (definitely not a healthy weight to maintain at such a young age). I was cushioned with the standard ‘you’re just big boned’ and ‘you just need to grow into yourself’ by my grandparents (who were the feeders in this relationship) and for a period of time I believed them, the majority of my family were overweight so I only really knew it that way.

How wrong they were!

I must admit, as I got taller my weight ‘spread out’ should we say, but this by no way meant that I was fit, healthy and able to maintain a lifestyle that I wish for my children to have in the future. I am not saying that we all need to eat a perfect diet and be alcohol free having trained for 2 hours a day, because unless that is your lifestyle and you are absolutely devoted to it then it isn’t sustainable. I enjoy my lifestyle with a healthy blend of indulgence at the weekend and actively participating in exercise for the enjoyment that it brings and the enjoyment that it instils in other people.

Aged 15 I took my first steps into a gym and the rest is history, but not my perception of group exercise.

My experience in teaching group exercise only started in 2014 when I took up a post as the Assistant Health & Fitness Manager at The University of Nottingham and considering I had been in the industry since 2010 (including my time studying at Loughborough) I deemed myself a ‘late bloomer’ in the field of group teaching. It had never been something that I thought I would be good at, I had always enjoyed training by myself, headphones on and escaping to what I thought was the most efficient and enjoyable way of training.

Two years on and how things have changed.

My daily routine now includes teaching a couple of classes, chatting to the members within them and enjoying educating people on fitness. For those of you who have attended any of my freestyle spin classes, you certainly know that I have a dreadful taste in music. However hopefully you agree my weekly integration of girl band remixes, Michael Jackson or whatever themed week we decide would be enjoyable certainly has people smiling (or at least that’s what you tell me!).

I feel very fortunate to manage a group exercise timetable with some of the best instructors in the UK, all of which are a pleasure to work with and learn from. We as a club have an incredible member base who are more than willing to learn, listen and try new things within the club. My aim is to have 50% of our members actively participating in group exercise and from my experience at the ‘Les Mills’ LIVE Event at the Excel Arena last month, there is no reason for this not to be achievable.

I was hugely inspired by the sheer volume of people on their fitness journey at the event, men and women, those just starting and those who had been on their journey for years. The likes of the ‘Les Mills’ event provides a platform for instructors to come together to go on that journey with health club members and to see that in action was a real pleasure. I only hope that I can continue to learn and instil the same passion and energy that was present in those huge rooms throughout all of my classes in the future.

To sum up, I had never been a fan of group exercise, participating or teaching but things change and people change and my view has been completely reversed. Young males are the least likely to try group exercise classes and as one of those myself, I urge each and everyone of you to go online, book a class and give it go.

My advice, try it. What have you got to lose? As you can see from the pictures above I lost inches, lots of them!

We’ll be holding a Group Exercise Launch night over the next couple of weeks, showcasing all of the classes that we have to offer for you to ‘dip in’ and ‘dip out’ of and I hope to see you there!

Best wishes always – Zak