Where Are the Guys in Your Group Fitness Class?
As many of you already know, Auburn’s Campus Recreation offers nearly 150 group fitness classes per week.
With the purchase of a class pass ($50 per semester), Auburn students can sign up for as many of these classes as they would like. The classes offered range from Insanity to Yoga, and they provide an awesome way to workout.
However, many of these classes are missing something- male participants. A quick survey of the various class rosters on imleagues.com yields shockingly few guys. Sure, some of the classes offered seem designed to appeal to a more feminine crowd- i.e. Zumba and Pilates. Other classes, though, seem much more masculine to me- Athletic Conditioning and the aforementioned Insanity, for instance. I quickly scanned the rosters of these classes looking for my fellow Auburn men, but they were still conspicuously absent.
Now curious, I wanted to find out why guys don’t seem to be taking these classes. Is it simply that guys don’t do cardio? Or is there a deeper reason? I figured a hands-on investigation was necessary, so I headed online to RWC Connect and purchased a class pass for 1 month for $15. I decided that I’d try to take four classes per week- Athletic Conditioning, Rowing Fundamentals, Insanity, and Step 45. On Saturday’s, I’d lift weights. So far, I’ve taken a few of these classes, and they were fun, albeit very different than what I’d expected.
My first class was Step 45 led by Pam, Auburn’s Assistant Director of Group Fitness. Having never taken a Step 45 class before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was slightly concerned that my presence as the lone male in a class full of girls would be awkward or intrusive, but my fears were quickly alleviated when I realized that my friend Montana was taking the class as well.
Pam was extremely welcoming, and we quickly began working out. According to the summary on IMleagues, “Step 45 utilizes a portable platform with height adjustable risers and you will do choreographed exercise routines up, onto, down and around the step for great cardio fitness, as well as exceptional training to shape the lower body!” Basically, we did a lot of stepping up and down in sync to semi-popular dance music. Because of my complete lack of coordination and inner rhythm, I struggled to keep up with the rest of the class at first. The various steps were not physically difficult by any means, but maintaining the rhythm and staying on-beat was remarkably difficult for me. I noticed that I wasn’t alone, though, as I saw a few of my classmates struggle to with the rhythm as well. We worked for about 40 of the slotted 45 minutes (the rest was devoted to a cooldown), and then the class ended, leaving me with a solid sweat and surprisingly sore thighs.
For my second class, I signed up for Athletic Conditioning on Sunday at 4. Wasn’t sure what to expect, but was really surprised by the intensity of the workouts. Although I was (yet again) the only guy, my instructor Binh, was super friendly and I really didn’t feel very out of place. Athletic Conditioning varies its routine from week to week, but during my first visit it consisted of 8 stations, each of which had its own workout. After a brief warm up, we rotated through the stations spending 30 seconds at each station and then moving on to the next one with 10 second breaks in between. After three full rotations, we got a break for a couple minutes, and then we did another three rounds.
It sucked. Like, a lot. Although I work out at the gym once or twice a week, I hadn't done any intensive cardio since spring training for high school football. I quickly realized that I was much less in shape than I had previously thought. My fellow classmates seemed to be feeling the burn as well as people began to drastically slow down the speed of their reps. The brilliant part about the class, is that everyone can go at their own speed, and it works. We each got really good workouts, even if we did not maintain the same individual pace. I highly recommend this class to anyone who may be interested in group fitness and getting an intense workout, because it was probably the best one I’ve had since I’ve come to Auburn and will definitely push you to your proverbial limits.
So why aren’t guys taking these classes? It’s probably a combination of a few different factors-
- These classes are mainly cardio-based. Since many guys who work out just lift weights and desire to bulk, they may not want to pay the additional money to take a class in which they’re burning their precious calories. This is a valid point, although during a cut, these classes could certainly be useful.
- They may be misinformed about what the classes consist of/ how many are offered. I was very surprised at how many classes were intensity and strength-based workouts. Some of these are killer workouts, and if you struggle with motivation at all (my biggest deterrence), then signing up for these classes will help get you in the gym. Before starting, I would go to the gym once or twice a week, mess around on some of the machines, do curls for a few sets, and then head out. I wasn’t working out consistently or intentionally. These classes have not only gotten me into the gym a lot more than normal, but they’ve inspired me to begin an actual weekly routine- this PPL series of workouts, to be specific.
- Guys may be intimidated by the extremely imbalanced gender ratio and not want to feel ostracized or that they’re getting less of a workout. This was my biggest concern for awhile and had I not been writing this article, I likely would have never signed up. I didn’t want to be judged for joining these classes, and I was worried about feeling unwelcome. This concern was absolutely unnecessary. Now that I’ve taken a few of the classes, I can happily say that it was much less of an issue than I thought.
A word of advice to guys that may be interested in taking these classes but that don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression- sit at the front of the class. It’ll show your dedication to the workout, you’ll get to know your instructor, and no-one in your Yoga class will worry about you checking them out when they’re in the “Downward Dog” pose.
Guys, if you’ve been struggling to get to the gym lately, or if you’re looking to slim down from your last dirty bulk, I highly recommend signing up for these classes. The variety in the classes offered assures that you won’t get bored and I promise that you’ll be able to find a class that can meet your fitness needs. If a class isn’t challenging enough for you, then check out one that sounds a little more intense! Many of these classes will allow you to push yourself as hard as you’d like, so don’t worry about being held back or being limited. If you feel that I've missed the reason, or that I'm just plain wrong, then please let us know by commenting below.
Be well, Auburn.
Photography: Auburn Campus Recreation