(Don’t) Follow the Leader


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If you’re reading this right now, it is probably safe to assume that you are a fitness enthusiast of some sort. This website isn’t exclusively for those who camp out at the gym for 2+ hours a day, ride their bikes for 20 miles or more, or run ultramarathons. Instead, it was put together to give anyone who values fitness, in any capacity, a resource that highlights others just like them and gives this community information on places and activities that can help you achieve your goals. Each of us has different goals and different activities we prefer to participate in. Some of us are self-starters who like hitting the pavement at 5am to run a few miles before the work day while others of us can’t wait to make it to our local gym after work to participate in our favorite group exercise class. If you fall into this last category, then this article is for you.

Group exercise is a major part of the fitness industry and the fitness community. There are classes designed to appeal to nearly anyone, such as bootcamps, cycling classes, water aerobics, step classes, cardio kickboxing, Group Power®, yoga, hot yoga, aerial yoga, and ab classes, just to name a few. If you combine this with the the Crossfit trend and all of the facilities /classes that have popped up surrounding it, what you get is a whole lot of offerings to appeal to everyone. With so many gyms offering so many classes each day, there are a lot of instructors out there standing front and center to lead you through. They have the microphone, they have a great voice, and they are clearly fit. There should be no need to question them, right?

Sadly, such is not the case. I have been working in the fitness industry in one capacity or another for eight years now, and this is the one area to which I would most like to caution our group exercise enthusiasts. Just because someone looks good, sounds good, and is standing in the front of a room does not make them a good instructor. It gives them power, but as Spider-Man’s late Uncle Ben once told him, “With great power comes great responsibility.” What I have seen time and time again across many states (and even in this very community) is that many instructors have good intentions, but lack the responsibility necessary to keep their participants safe.

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About Matt Graifer

Professor of Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology

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