With group fitness classes becoming increasingly popular, questions are being raised about the ethical concerns about fitness instructors and their different methods of motivation. Fitness classes are intended for participants to receive positive encouragement from a leader and tools for physical improvement. Fitness instructors’ main intentions should be to foster a safe environment where participants can work on their personal fitness goals.
Voluntary fitness classes rarely offer services that allow instructors to learn the specific aspirations of the participators. Lack of knowledge about an individual allows instructors to make assumptions about their goals by assessing their appearance or athletic ability. A common assumption made by instructors is that class members are participating to lose weight. It is simple for instructors to adjust their motivation methods around these assumptions. This can turn group fitness statements that were once deemed encouraging, into indirect demeaning comments.
Losing weight and burning large numbers of calories is not always the intention of a casual gym attendee. Exercise is often recommended for the improvement of mental health more often than for receiving physical benefits. Casual exercisers, especially young individuals, often use this form of activity to boost their mood and improve focus. Attending classes that are directed towards weight loss can negatively impact the mentality of participators who are looking for a more casual workout.
High-intensity workout courses may allow instructors to hold individuals to a certain standard within the class. For example, cycling or strengthening courses may require class members to use certain amounts of resistance or weight to participate. Class participants have experienced encounters with select instructors that make them feel poorly if they do not engage at the recommended performance level. Several classes allow instructors to personally engage with and push individuals until they are fulfilling their desired outcome for the class.
Calling out individual class members for poor performance in front of their peers can cause feelings of embarrassment and defeat. A dampened sense of pride is enough to turn individuals away from returning to group exercise settings. Instructors looking to push the athletic ability of individuals should search for job opportunities as personal trainers. They can more easily understand the individual goals of their client and work with high-intensity athletes that are seeking physically altering experiences. For those interested in group exercise classes for more casual purposes, intense focus on body weight and performance standards can lower levels of self-respect.
People who are looking to become more active through group fitness classes should be able to exercise at their own pace in a safe environment. Class members should not be engaging with fear of public embarrassment. Both individuals and instructors looking for strict workout routines should seek personal training for an enforcement of stricter standards. There needs to be more restrictions on the topics that group fitness class instructors can address when conducting a class and anything related to weight loss/gain should be prohibited. Exercise classes should be a comfortable environment where members can achieve their personal fitness goals and receive positive encouragement through a group setting.
Brooke Kruger is a Dakota Student Opinion Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]