The Fitness Zone

The Rise of Group Fitness Gyms: Community and Health in One Place

Jan 10, 2024 | by Shaun Radford

In recent times, the fitness landscape has witnessed a proliferation of group fitness options, with establishments ranging from large franchises like BFT, F45, and FitStop to smaller boutique studios dotting our streets. Even traditional big box gyms have joined the trend, offering a diverse array of group exercise classes. The surge in popularity of group fitness gyms signifies a notable shift in the way individuals approach their health and wellness journeys, emphasising not only physical fitness but also the development of a community-driven atmosphere.

The Social Aspect of Human Nature

At the core of this shift is an understanding of human nature. Humans are inherently social beings, thriving on interaction with others in both small and large groups. Numerous studies in biology and neuroscience, as discussed in the Wellness Living blog [1], emphasise the importance of social connectedness for overall well-being. This need for connection became strikingly evident during the isolation periods of the 2020 pandemic when social distancing measures and lockdowns took a toll on mental health globally.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, group fitness remained one of the top three fitness trends of 2020, as revealed by the ACSM annual survey [1]. This resilience underscores the enduring appeal of group fitness even in times of crisis, highlighting its significance in fostering a sense of community and combating the negative impact of isolation.

Motivational Power of Shared Experiences

Beyond the desire for human connection, group fitness taps into the motivational power of shared experiences. When individuals come together to pursue their fitness goals, a sense of camaraderie develops [2]. The collective energy and motivation within a group setting can propel participants to push their limits and achieve more than they might in a solo workout. This shared commitment to health creates a positive and supportive environment, fostering a sense of accountability and encouragement among members.

The diverse range of group fitness options, catering to different interests and preferences, contributes to its overall appeal. Whether it’s high-intensity interval training, yoga, or dance-based workouts, the variety of classes makes group fitness accessible and enjoyable for a wide demographic.

Holistic Concept of Health

In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, the community-driven atmosphere of group fitness gyms addresses the holistic concept of health. Modern fitness enthusiasts recognise that well-being extends beyond the physical, encompassing mental, emotional, and social dimensions. Group fitness classes often incorporate elements of mindfulness, stress reduction, and positive reinforcement, offering a comprehensive approach to health and wellness [3].

The impact of community on health transcends the confines of the fitness studio, influencing lifestyle choices, dietary habits, and overall well-being. The connections formed within a fitness community often extend beyond the gym, creating a network of support and encouragement that positively impacts individuals’ lives outside of their workout sessions. This ripple effect contributes to a broader culture of health consciousness and community engagement.

Extending the Community Beyond the Gym

The sense of community formed within the gym doesn’t stop at its doors; it extends into daily life. Individuals who share a fitness community often find themselves making better decisions in social settings, actively seeking events that promote and engage more active lifestyles. The support created within the class extends beyond the social setting of life, allowing for more accountability and enjoyment in the common goal of enhancing the quality of life.

Furthermore, the sense of belonging and mutual support within a fitness community serves as a powerful motivator for long-term adherence to a healthy lifestyle. The accountability fostered in a group setting encourages individuals to stay committed to their fitness routines, creating lasting habits that contribute to sustained health and well-being. This stands in stark contrast to the often solitary nature of individual fitness pursuits, where motivation can wane without the external support found in group settings.

Witnessing this phenomenon firsthand in my group classes, I observe how participants not only miss the physical exercise but also the sense of connection when absent from a class. Those who have established connections within and outside the class often reach out to each other, holding themselves accountable and reigniting their passion for the fitness journey.

The Impact of Group Fitness Beyond Physical Health

Additionally, the benefits of group fitness extend far beyond the realms of physical health, delving into the intricate facets of mental and emotional well-being. As individuals engage in shared workouts, the group dynamic becomes a catalyst for mental resilience and emotional balance. Group fitness classes often incorporate mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, providing participants with valuable tools to navigate the challenges of daily life.

The shared experience of overcoming physical challenges in a group setting fosters a sense of accomplishment and boosts participants’ self-esteem. This positive reinforcement, coupled with the supportive atmosphere of the community, creates a holistic approach to health that goes beyond the superficial aspects of physical fitness.

Moreover, the communal nature of group fitness serves as a powerful stress reliever. In the fast-paced, demanding world we live in, the opportunity to engage in a collective effort towards better health provides a mental reprieve. The camaraderie built within these classes acts as a buffer against the stresses of daily life, offering participants a sanctuary where they can unwind, connect with others, and invest in their mental health.

The Role of Group Fitness in Lifestyle Choices

The influence of the fitness community permeates into the choices individuals make in their daily lives. Beyond the workout sessions, participants often find themselves gravitating towards a healthier lifestyle. The sense of accountability established within the fitness community motivates individuals to make conscious decisions about their diet, sleep, and overall self-care.

This ripple effect is particularly evident in social settings where choices that align with an active and healthy lifestyle become the norm. Encouraged by the bonds formed in the fitness class, individuals are more likely to opt for social gatherings that promote physical activity, whether it’s hiking, cycling, or engaging in other group activities. This shift in social dynamics contributes to a broader cultural change towards prioritising health and well-being.

Long-Term Adherence and the Power of Community Support

The sense of belonging and mutual support within a fitness community isn’t just a fleeting motivator; it becomes a driving force for long-term adherence to a healthy lifestyle. In contrast to solo fitness pursuits, where motivation might dwindle without external support, the community dynamics of group fitness classes create a sustainable framework for lasting habits.

Participants, buoyed by the support of their fitness community, find the strength to persevere through challenges and plateaus. The shared goals and aspirations within the group provide a constant source of inspiration, turning fitness from a solitary endeavour into a collective journey. This sense of shared achievement strengthens the resolve of individuals, ensuring they stay committed to their fitness routines even in the face of obstacles.

In my experience as a fitness professional, I have witnessed the profound impact of community support on long-term adherence. Participants who have established connections within the group often become not just workout buddies but genuine friends who share a common goal of embracing a healthier lifestyle.


In conclusion, the rise of group fitness gyms represents a paradigm shift in how individuals approach their health and wellness. Beyond the physical benefits of exercise, the emphasis on community and shared experiences addresses fundamental human needs for connection and belonging. As society grapples with the complexities of the modern world, the role of group fitness in promoting both individual and collective health becomes increasingly significant.

Whether found in a large franchise or a boutique studio, the community-driven approach to fitness is not merely a trend but a transformative force shaping the future of well-being. As we celebrate the diversity of group fitness offerings on every street corner, we also celebrate the vibrant communities they create, fostering health in one shared space. 


  1. Group Fitness Trends: Why Group Fitness Is More Important Than Ever. (n.d.). WellnessLiving. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
  2. Graupensperger, S., Gottschall, J. S., Benson, A. J., Eys, M., Hastings, B., & Evans, M. B. (2019). Perceptions of groupness during fitness classes positively predict recalled perceptions of exertion, enjoyment, and affective valence: An intensive longitudinal investigation. Sport, exercise, and performance psychology, 8(3), 290–304.
  3. Steinhilber, B. (2017, November 1). The health benefits of working out with a crowd. NBC News. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from
Shaun Radford

Shaun Radford

Having worked and studied in the fitness industry in both New Zealand and Australia for over fourteen years, Shaun has held positions as a group exercise instructor, personal trainer, educator and mentor for personal trainers and training clients. With a passion for education and strong teams, Shaun revels in empowering future personal trainers and businesses to expand their minds and think differently. In recent years Shaun presents at conferences and for businesses on how to take their clients and teams to the next level, aiming for goals to be hit and client retention through inclusive practices and mental health support.

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