The Fitness Zone

Harnessing the Power of Together: Group Exercise for Motivation, Accountability, and Social Support

Aug 10, 2023 | by Brodie Hicks

“Put on your headphones. Avoid eye contact at all times. Focus inward. This target is for you and you alone. So don’t talk, just get to work”.

This is the reality for many as individual pursuits dominate the health and fitness industry. And while this mantra works for many, there is a force that is continuing to change the fitness landscape and our perception of working towards an individual goal – group exercise. Defined as a collective fitness experience led by an instructor or facilitated by a team, group exercise, while not new, has experienced something of a rebirth in the new age fitness industry.

As we continue to define what is truly important to us on our health and fitness journey, group exercise serves as a pathway for many to achieve more than just physical fitness benefits. Motivation, accountability and social support form the pillars of this phenomenon and serve as crucial catalysts for achieving our health and fitness goals. In this article, we explore the transformative benefits of group exercise and highlight its incredible power to improve our overall well being.

Motivation through Group Exercise

Motivation is the driving force that keeps us focused on our goals and helps us stick to a regular workout practice. It is the spark that ignites our desire to grow and broaden our horizons, but motivation, like trying to hold water in your hands, can be elusive and readily disappear when faced with hurdles or monotony.

This is where group exercise comes in. The presence of like-minded people with comparable goals is one of the fundamental motivators of group exercise. When we are surrounded by other people who share similar goals and motivations, we tend to feel a sense of camaraderie and support, which can in turn help us stay motivated. A group workout setting’s collective energy is often contagious, producing an atmosphere of enthusiasm and inspiration that continues to feed and drive the motivation of the participants.

Group dynamics contribute to motivation in a variety of ways. Competition, encouragement, companionship, and a sense of belonging are all potent motivators that can keep us going. Friendly competition within classes is a great way to motivate us to do our best by matching or exceeding the accomplishments of our mates. Another excellent source of inspiration is the encouragement we receive from other members, while a sense of belonging and shared achievement can assist to improve our drive to keep going, whether it’s supporting each other through tough exercises or celebrating milestones together.

Group exercise also has the unique capacity to counteract monotony and boost overall enjoyment of exercise. The range of class types, from high-energy aerobic sessions to peaceful yoga practices, can help keep fitness enthusiasts engaged and stimulated at all times. Enjoyment in exercise can not be understated, as boredom is often the main factor attributed to a loss of motivation. Finally, group exercise can also serve to provide a sense of fun and social connection, further enhancing the enjoyment found in exercise. It’s simpler to stay motivated and devoted to our workout programme when we appreciate what we’re doing.

Those who have instructed in group exercise settings have witnessed numerous examples of real-life success stories. People who may have tried and failed numerous times to attain their health and fitness goals before joining group exercise and discovering a sense of purpose and belonging in their training. The communal motivation and encouragement enabled them to endure through the challenging sessions, show up even when they didn’t want to, and achieve new health and fitness benchmarks they never imagined possible. Stories like this demonstrate the extraordinary potential of group exercise to rekindle and sustain motivation.

Accountability in Group Exercise

The concept of accountability is intriguing. It is defined as the desire to accept responsibility for our own acts, although we frequently seek accountability from outside sources. The personal trainer is frequently employed as a source of accountability in the health and fitness industry, but for many, this accountability comes with a sense of unwillingness. Group exercise gives a comparable sense of accountability, but it does so by creating an environment that makes staying on track simpler and drives motivation for success.

Group activities instil a sense of duty and dedication. When we join a group, whether it’s a fitness class or an entire facility, we feel compelled to show up and actively participate. Scheduled sessions and planned programs are critical in encouraging accountability in group fitness. Knowing that the workout will take place at a given time and location instils a feeling of routine and discipline. When exercise becomes a regular part of our routine, it becomes easier to prioritise it. Furthermore, organised programs give a clear path for growth, allowing participants to track their progress and remain dedicated to attaining their objectives.

One of the major drivers for accountability are the shared goals within a group exercise setting. When people have common goals, such as training for a race or working towards a comparable personal goal, the sense of accountability increases. Members of a group can help and hold each other responsible by keeping track of progress, creating milestones, and providing encouragement along the way. This mutual accountability creates a supportive environment in which individuals are inspired to stay consistent and persevere in the face of adversity.

Real-life testimonials from people who have strengthened their accountability through group exercise highlight the importance of it. When exercising alone, many people struggle to keep to their exercise program. However, after joining a group exercise class, they discover that they are surrounded by people who share their passion for fitness. The group environment continues to provide the accountability they need, as they become more driven to attend each class and push themselves harder. The group’s collective support and encouragement can help members stay on track and achieve extraordinary achievements. Such examples demonstrate how group exercise may be a valuable technique for increasing accountability.

Social Support in Group Exercise

Social support is a critical component that has a huge impact on our overall well-being. It refers to the web of relationships and encounters that offer emotional, informational, and practical support. Group exercise fosters companionship, encouragement, and positive peer influence, creating a rich atmosphere for social support.

Group exercise can help bring people together as well as foster a sense of community among participants. The shared experience of working towards common fitness goals, whether in a fitness class, a boot camp, or a team sport, can help strengthen friendships and connections. In addition, the presence of like-minded people who understand the challenges and accomplishments of the fitness journey helps further build an inclusive environment as people are able to share in the ups and downs of the journey.

Within this supportive environment, group exercise encourages mutual encouragement and positive peer influence. In other words, when we see people pushing themselves and achieving goals, it helps motivate us to do the same. The group energy and shared commitment to fitness urge each individual forwards can help produce a ripple effect of motivation and determination.

In addition to motivation, social support in group exercise has significant emotional and psychological advantages. The support system group exercise often provides can help us manage the many ups and downs of a fitness journey by giving us a sense of belonging and understanding. Encouragement and comfort from other members and friends who are also going through their own fitness journey can improve emotions and strengthen the commitment to overcome any hurdles during difficult times. Furthermore, social support can function as a stress and anxiety buffer, helping to improve mental health and general motivation.

In previous sections we have discussed the benefits of motivation and accountability by participating in group exercise; however, it really is social support that underpins these key values. Group exercise helps to foster a sense of belonging and motivation through camaraderie, encouragement, and positive peer influence. The emotional and psychological benefits of social support assist individuals in maintaining motivation, overcoming obstacles, and improving their overall well-being. The unique support networks developed within group exercise settings serve as foundations of strength and growth, whether it’s fitness classes, boot camps, or team sports.


Anyone who has worked towards achieving any type of goal understands how difficult it can be when doing it alone. This is no different to achieving health and fitness goals. This holds true for health and fitness goals as well. Group exercise provides a transformative approach to health and fitness, capitalising on the power of motivation, accountability, and social support. Engaging in group exercise goes beyond physical fitness, encompassing benefits such as improved mental well-being and personal growth.

The allure of social support and the motivation derived from working within a community of like-minded individuals explains why group exercise has gained such popularity. Whether individuals seek out local group exercise options or form their own fitness communities, the ability to come together is readily accessible.

Many individuals embark on their health and fitness journey with the belief that achieving their goals will bring them happiness. However, as Albert Schweitzer once wisely stated, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Group exercise encapsulates this philosophy by fostering a sense of togetherness that allows individuals to find joy and happiness in the process. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of achieving success in their health and fitness endeavours.

Brodie Hicks

Brodie Hicks

With his background in Strength and Conditioning, Brodie Hicks has coached multiple semi-professional & professional athletes in Australia over the last 7+ years, whilst also working to improve training and vocational outcomes within the fitness industry in his role as General Manager of Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF). Brodie brings a raft of knowledge and experience to the health and fitness industry, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Movement Science, as well as a Masters Degree in High Performance Sport. Brodie is also a Level 2 ASCA Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association. In addition to his work at the AIF, Brodie also manages a coaching business, Performance Evolved Australia, and is Master Coach and Program Director of an interstate boutique group training studio, bringing his extensive strength and conditioning knowledge to the group training world.

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Disclaimer: Where Certificate III in Fitness, Cert III/Cert 3, or Fitness Coach is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Fitness, Cert IV/Cert 4, or Personal Trainer is mentioned, it refers to SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Program™ is mentioned, it refers to Fitness Essentials and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Master Trainer Plus+ Program™ is mentioned, it refers to SIS30321 Certificate III in Fitness and SIS40221 Certificate IV in Fitness. Where Certificate IV in Massage or Cert IV/Cert 4 is mentioned, it refers to HLT42021 Certificate IV in Massage Therapy. Where Diploma of Remedial Massage is mentioned, it refers to HLT52021 Diploma of Remedial Massage.