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Group exercise for beginners

7-minute read

Key facts

  • Group exercise suits people of all ages and fitness levels.
  • Regular group exercise improves your fitness, heart health and weight loss.
  • Exercising with others boosts your mental health and creates community connections.
  • Stay motivated by choosing a group exercise that you will enjoy and fits with your lifestyle.
  • Before you exercise, get advice from your doctor or an exercise professional to check that your new fitness program is right for you.

What group exercise can I do?

Group exercise is when you train with others for fitness or as a form of physical recreation for fun. Group exercise can be a team sport like soccer, basketball or netball. It could be a fitness class such as a cardio or spin (stationary bicycles) class.

When you participate in a fitness class, an instructor will show you what to do. The instructor will cater to different fitness levels. You could get a personal fitness instructor to create an exercise plan to meet your health needs and limitations. You can choose one-on-one or small group personal training sessions.

Sport and recreation centres, gyms, pools and public fields hold fitness classes and team sports.

What are the health benefits of group exercise?

Children enrol in team sports as a way to learn life skills and stay physically active. While adults tend to participate in group exercise for physical health benefits, such as improving fitness, heart health and weight loss.

There are important mental health benefits to playing a team sport or exercising in a class. This can include improved mood and increased social engagement and community connections.

You may feel the highs and lows of exercising even more when you train or play with a group. Winning a match generates a wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Learning to manage the disappointments of a loss builds your resilience.

How do I choose a group exercise that suits me?

There are a few things to consider when choosing the right exercise class or sport for you.

Indoors or outdoors: Do you prefer to exercise in the fresh air, or are you sun-sensitive and prefer an air-conditioned environment?

Near or far: Do you have transportation options to play sport outside your neighbourhood, or do you need to choose an activity close by?

High energy or slow paced: Do you need a slower-paced activity to begin with, such as a walking group or yoga? Or are you looking for a high energy sport, such as basketball or a gym class?

Group exercise or team sport: Do you prefer to exercise with a team, which might involve commitment if you play a set position? Or do you prefer small group classes, such as spin and cardio, which are often more flexible?

The most important factor is that you enjoy your choice of exercise. You are much more likely to stick to group exercise if you are having fun.

Many gyms and fitness centres offer free sessions to help you decide which activity to participate in. Ask if you can watch or try a session before you sign up.

Where can I find out about group exercise for people with disability?

Team sports and group exercise classes can be fun and rewarding for people with a physical or mental disability. You can find modified team sports and group exercise classes to suit a range of abilities and fitness levels. Speak to your coach or instructor at the beginning of the class. They can provide you with guidance on how to modify each activity to meet your needs and goals.

There are many government initiatives for group exercise classes and team sport programs for people with disabilities, such as:

How do I start group exercise in a safe way?

Find a group or club that has a beginner’s class. It is important to start at a level of difficulty that you can manage. This will help you to avoid injury and stay motivated. Once you master the beginner’s level, your skills and progress will improve.

Before you start any new exercise or sport, get advice from your doctor or an exercise professional. They will check that your new fitness program is right for you.

Always let the fitness instructor or coach know about injuries or limitations you may have. Make them aware that you are a beginner.

If an exercise or sport is causing you severe pain or discomfort, stop. Speak to your fitness instructor, coach or your doctor to prevent injury and further pain.

Indoor and outdoor exercise remains beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is what you can do to stay safe:

  • do not leave your home to exercise if you are following public health orders to quarantine or isolate
  • follow all government health and safety regulations — check current restrictions in your area before you exercise
  • if you are feeling unwell, stay home
  • when exercising or training with others, stay 1.5 metres from others
  • keep groups small
  • do not touch outdoor surfaces such as playground equipment or park fitness equipment
  • do not share equipment with others
  • wash your hands with soap or sanitiser before and after every activity

How do I avoid injury while exercising in a group?

Team sports can have a high rate of injury. This is especially true for contact sports such as Rugby Union or Australian rules football (or, AFL). Learn and practise the right techniques by training with a coach. They will help build the skills you need to play the sport and to prevent injury.

Protective gear helps reduce the chance of injury, especially for contact sports. Ask your coach if you will need protective pads, mouth guards, helmets, or any other protective gear before you play.

Concussions are brain injuries caused by a knock to the head or other parts of the body where the force is transferred to the brain. A fall can cause a concussion. Concussions are a serious injury that can affect you at any level of sport. If you think you or your teammate may have a concussion, do not continue playing. Try not to move until you have had a medical assessment. The HeadCheck app can help you recognise the signs of concussion and guide you on what to do.

The hot Australian weather can take a toll on you. Make sure you stay hydrated and protected from the sun. You should take breaks to avoid fatigue.

Where can I find classes, clubs or coaches?

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2022


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