Fitness Class Too easy? Too hard? How do you know?

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Is it possible for a fitness class to be "too easy"?

Everyone has ideas about what "being fit" looks like for them. Many of the ideas of fitness in the 1980's still hang on — the concept of "no pain, no gain," for instance. As with diets, there are many books telling us the "right way" to exercise.

Occasionally, someone tells me they quit a class because it was "too easy." Upon further discussion, I usually discover that they believe they need a class that is either longer or more intense.

Fortunately, I don’t hear this often. There are benefits to attending a group fitness class with a qualified instructor. That instructor's training assists participants in understanding what activities should be done, how intense they should be, and how long they should last. An abundance of research confirms that these activities are helpful and useful to maintain a long and independent life.

So I asked myself: "Is it possible for a class to be too easy?" and I realized that a participant needs to educate themselves about fitness. I recalled many of the articles I have written that tackle this idea from several angles. They are:

I have discussed each of these concepts below, and I have provided a link to the original article which I wrote on the topic.

Over-Training can be harmful

It is possible to over-train, and research shows that it can do long-term damage, possibly causing us to quit fitness altogether. You have to understand your limitations and if an instructor is suggesting that you do something that you know will be harmful to you, you should adapt the activity to suit your expectations and limitations.

For more information about over-training, see Over-Training: How do you know when you're doing too much?.

Reasons why People Quit: "Too Easy" becomes an Excuse

When someone suggests that a class is "too easy," one has to ask oneself if that is just an excuse for not going to class — especially if the person doesn't choose an alternative activity.

Reasons why Some Older Adults Don't stay in Exercise: And reasons why they should sums up this phenomenon of why some people don't go to fitness class.

What is Truly "too easy" or "too hard"? What is "too long" or "too short"?

Some people will argue that they can't catch their breath. If that is your situation, you are taking something that is too hard for you. You need a less intense and perhaps shorter exercise session; you may need to adapt within the class itself. But can intensity or duration actually be "too easy" or "too short"?

Intensity and Duration of Exercise: Is One more Important than the Other? will guide you through the process to help you determine what works best for you.

Why DO people attend fitness class?

The simple answer is: Because being fit makes you healthier and you live longer. The classes are led by trained instructors who know what types of activities and exercises you need to do.

Two articles may help you decide if attending a fitness class is the right activity for you:

Fitness Class is not just about cardiovascular exercise.

There are a lot of other classes available to people today, including dance, yoga, pilates, and zumba. These classes offer many benefits — including cardiovascular and flexibility and meditation activities — but the traditional fitness class adds an element that you often don't get in other classes: strength training and balance training. Research is revealing how terribly important both of these are to long-term health and independence.

Here's an article about the merits of lifting weights: Why Lift Weights?.

Fitness Classes that add new activities.

Do you know what this is? Is it used in your class?

Instructors who are working with older adults usually have special training. They know that older adults need more warm-up, for instance. They also know that older adults need to have balance training. If you stay away from fitness classes, you are losing the benefit of a tremendous resource: The fitness instructor who is trained to work with older adults.

Here's some further discussion of these points:

Conclusion

There might be a class that's "too hard" for you, your age, and skill level, but there's no such thing as "too easy" because you can adapt the exercises to your own skill level: You choose the heaviness of your weights, the thickness of your band, low impact vs. high impact movement, holding on to something when doing balance exercises or not holding on. You are in the driver's seat.

I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.

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