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Yes, you can exercise by yourself, prodding yourself to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it. Or you can join a group exercise class and let the support of others inspire you to return.

Each month, Cheshire Fitness Club in Black Mountain offers some 30 group exercise classes. “These classes are constant on our schedule,” Stephanie Hayes, an owner, said. “They may vary a little from month to month, but you can count on them being on the schedule.”

Group exercise is popular and in demand because it provides opportunities to feel young, vital and physically active with others.

“The camaraderie is huge in group exercise,” Cheshire Fitness Club instructor Jen Marsh said. “You can expect to spend a lot of time learning about how to work out. You don’t have decide or plan anything, because the instructor does that. There is an atmosphere of ‘we are all in this together.’”

Group exercise classes lead to friendships with like-minded people.

“In group exercises classes there is a lot of mutual support from the participants,” said Julie Harrison, a Cheshire fitness instructor. “You have you own cheering section. It is a wonderful atmosphere. If someone is missing, people inquire where they are and if they are OK. There is little competition between participants about who does the best job in exercise class. The class is a group, but it is about the individual participants and what they need.”

Group exercise classes offer consistent exercise schedules and accountability for participating. Both are great motivators.

“The class schedule makes you be more accountable to yourself and others,” Kelly McLellan, a Cheshire fitness teacher, said. “Exercising in a group also helps participants maintain their momentum. If momentum isn’t up, then participants don’t feel good about the exercises. It is hard to lose momentum in a motivated class.”

Most people talk the talk of exercising and how good it is for the body. When it comes to consistently participating in exercise, many fail to walk the walk. Many want to exercise but know little about where to start. Many group exercise program don’t require participants to have prior exercise knowledge or experience. The instructors design safe and effective workouts.

“When you join a group exercise class, you are scheduling time for yourself,” Marsh said. “After a few classes, you may even feel deprived if you miss the class. Group exercise class is about the individual and what he or she is getting out of it.”

Hayes recently accepted a challenge to exercise in a group.

“I have always exercised alone and enjoyed it,” she said. “I took the challenge so I would be able to personally tell people what group exercising is like.

Hayes has been in the fitness business for 32 years, and has observed a lot of exercise classes. She was surprised to find the group exercise classes at Cheshire were about the participants and not so much about the instructor.

McLellan said students in her exercise classes range in age from 20s to an 80 year old.

“I really try to make the exercise experience a good one, regardless of the age,” she said. “I always stay with the basic plan and teach to all levels of expertise.”

Burnout and boredom are two chief complaints of structured exercise programs.

Harrison said few people burnout in group exercises classes because prevention is built into how the classes are handled.

“Instructors work at making the classes fun, supplementing (the experience) with good music and lots of smiling and jokes,” she said. “The light, fun atmosphere doesn’t mean we aren’t working hard. There are always different routines, different music and even seasonal themes.”

Marsh said group exercise is not just for the ladies, but for men as well.

“We are not just teaching high-energy, fit 20 year olds,” she said. “We want males and females of all ages to participate, get and stay fit.”

“You don’t have to get into shape to come to exercise class,” Harrison said. “Getting in shape happens in the exercise class.”

Group exercise at Cheshire Fitness includes various classes, including cycling, Tabata, dance energy. There is Step Combo, Sit to be Fit, Strengthen and Lengthen, Functional Fitness, Cardio/Strength.

Cheshire Fitness Club, located at 25 Jane Jacobs Rd., Black Mountain, offers some 30 different group exercise classes each month, appealing to all age levels and levels of expertise. Phone 664-0400 for more information.

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