If you don’t enjoy exercising, you’re doing it wrong.
Far too many people put the ex in exercise. They get bored doing the same fitness routine week after week, whether it’s the treadmill or the weight room. Motivation wanes, and inertia takes over. Soon, they’re not exercising at all.
Studies show that the most effective way to stick with a fitness routine is to make it a social activity. An Indiana University study found that solo exercisers have a 43 percent dropout rate, but only 6 percent of people who work out with friends quit.
Why? Friends make exercise more fun. Plus, if they’re counting on you to be there, you’re far less likely to reach for an excuse to skip.
A good way to take advantage: fitness classes like those offered by SilverSneakers. “Classes double as social outings because you’re surrounded by people with similar interests and goals,” says Maxine Yeung, R.D., a personal trainer and founder of The Wellness Whisk. “They offer an opportunity to meet and spend time with people who are also health-minded.”
These connections can be made before, during, and after your class. “You often have time to talk with other attendees while setting up before class and cooling down and putting away equipment afterward,” Yeung says. “And during classes, not only does your instructor encourage you, but classmates cheer one another on because you’re on the same team.”
So, which classes best facilitate this social experience? We’ve rounded up six of the most fun fitness classes.
1. Aqua Aerobics
You don’t need to be an expert swimmer to take an aqua aerobics class, such as SilverSneakers Splash, which involves standing in waist-deep water while performing aerobic exercises.
If you’re concerned that splashing around in the shallow end of a pool won’t give you a good workout, let Yeung reassure you: “These classes are low-impact but include cardio and resistance training,” she says. They also provide plenty of opportunities to engage with other class members and generally have a blast in the pool.
2. Boot Camp
A boot camp might not sound like a delightful fitness experience. But when you take advantage of SilverSneakers FLEX classes, you can enjoy boot camps in outdoor settings—and that’s where the fun begins. Not only will you have an opportunity to connect with other class participants (trust us: nothing bonds people faster than surviving boot camp together), but you’ll also be able to explore new terrain and enjoy gorgeous scenery as you do it—and that keeps things interesting.
3. Latin Dance
Latin dance classes such as salsa dancing “are always a fun way to socialize because you get to listen to good music and just have fun moving,” Yeung says.
Fitness instructor Sharon Broadley-Martin agrees. These classes give you an opportunity to move your body in new ways (swiveling your hips, for example) and provide participants with a space to be silly, she says. Some classes even include the opportunity to dance directly with other members, which can increase the social elements of the class.
4. Aqua Yoga
Aqua yoga is all about having fun together, Broadley-Martin says. As you might expect, the class involves performing yoga moves while standing in waist-high water.
But it’s not strictly a quest for enlightenment. “We just ham it up,” Broadley-Martin says. Aqua yoga is offered in various SilverSneakers FLEX locations.
5. Hiking or Walking Groups
Instead of meeting a friend for a sit-down coffee or meal, why not meet several friends and enjoy great conversation while staying fit? Yeung says hiking and walking groups accommodate all types of fitness levels and provide a great way to increase your heart rate while enjoying other people’s company in the great outdoors. Check out SilverSneakers FLEX to find a hiking or walking group near you.
Zumba is a cardio class typically set to Latin American music. Like Latin dance, this flavor of workout is all about giving yourself permission to explore your expressive side, Broadley-Martin says. This enables participants to have so much fun they barely notice they’re exercising.
Yeung agrees: “It’s like going to a party while getting fit.”
In addition to providing a good time, these classes also help whip you into shape. “Being around people can be motivating, pushing yourself further than you would on your own,” Yeung says. “As you get to know your classmates, you develop a sense of accountability. You also get the benefit of having an instructor who can help make sure your form is right so you don’t injure yourself.”
To find a Zumba class near you, check out SilverSneakers FLEX.