Taking on a fitness routine alone can be a fun challenge, and you might reach your fitness goals, but did you know that you can achieve your goals faster and even surpass them when following a fitness program? Getting fit involves developing and executing a plan to reach a specific goal. Developing fitness plans and goals is what fitness professionals like group instructors, coaches, and personal trainers are proficient in doing! And trust me, the special people in this field are always willing to help; they love their jobs and do everything they can to help you develop a plan, hold you accountable, and celebrate with you when you reach your goals.
When you are new to fitness and just starting, it can be intimidating to walk into a gym. As a newbie, I would walk on the treadmill for a while, people watch, and imitate what I saw others doing. I quickly realized that using other people’s workouts did not work for me. One day while I was wandering through the gym, I noticed a separate room where I could see a group of people moving in synch to music. On different days they would be doing different formats of exercise; some classes had weights, some classes were done on a cycle bike, some were kickboxing format, and some were step classes. I ultimately mustered up the courage to jump into my very first class, which was strength and endurance training. Upon entering class, I was instructed to grab small hand weights and an aerobics step. It was great to have an instructor tell me what I needed and what to do! All I needed to do was follow along and listen to the instructor’s cues. It was great! No thinking was required on my end, just a great sweat with a programmed warm-up and cool-down included! I was in love. I started hitting my goals and felt my fitness level skyrocket to new heights.
I have never stopped since. This new group exercise experience was the catalyst that inspired me to get certified and become an exercise instructor and fitness coach. As an instructor, I learned to program with a science-backed approach to design the best workout for any fitness level. This includes how to lead a warm-up that will ensure your safety during each exercise and help you get a better, more efficient workout. On the other end of the workout, the cool down is programmed strategically to put the body into a recovery state so your body gets appropriate recuperation to smash your next workout.
It gets even better with a personal trainer; you receive an individualized program that is tailored to your every need and fits effortlessly into your lifestyle, making it easier to reach your goals.
No matter who you are, following a fitness program with a coach, instructor, or personal trainer can provide tremendous benefits when compared to exercising without a structured plan.
Here Are 5 Reasons, Supported by Scientific Evidence
You might want to consider trying out a fitness plan:
1. Goal Setting and Accountability
Fitness programs often involve setting specific goals, which can provide direction and motivation. Research suggests that setting goals influences exercise adherence and performance (1). Additionally, being held accountable to a program can increase your commitment and consistency (2).
2. Structured Progression
Fitness programs typically include progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the intensity, duration, or frequency of exercises. This approach has been linked to improved physical fitness and performance (3). With a program, it can be easier to ensure efficient progress and prevent plateaus.
3. Individualized Approach
Following a fitness program developed by a fitness professional allows for a more personalized approach. A well-designed program considers individual needs, preferences, and limitations, making the exercise routine more effective and safer (4).
4. Variety and Enjoyment
Many fitness programs incorporate various exercises and activities to keep workouts interesting and enjoyable, reducing boredom and increasing adherence (5). Research shows that finding pleasure in exercise is related to long-term commitment and positive physical and psychological outcomes (6).
5. Expert Guidance
Fitness programs developed by qualified trainers or exercise specialists provide evidence-based strategies, proper form, and safe progression. This guidance reduces your risk of injury and ensures that your workouts align with your individual goals (7).
Outside of the Scientific Literature
there are many practical reasons you may want to follow a fitness program. Here are 4 of my favorite:
1. Influence of Instructors
Knowing that the instructor or coach is showing up for you, you will be more likely to show up for them. It is tempting to skip out on your workout, especially when it has been a long day, or you are just plain ol’ tired. The obligation of your scheduled workout session with your coach or instructor is the push you need to get to your workout. It also helps if you have a community you like to work out with, whether at the gym or on a virtual platform like the SunnyFit ® app.
2. Motivational Benefits of Exercising with Friends
Your friends like to see you show up in your workouts. Working out with a community can help you stay committed and reach your goals. Being involved with other people with the same motive as you will make you more successful. You will be more motivated to work out more times per week on average and stick with your routines longer. Other studies verify that working out with others can significantly increase exercise time. A study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that working out in a team format improved performance, doubling the workout time of those who exercised alone (9).
3. Prioritizing Self-Care and Consistency
Think of your workouts like important meetings you have scheduled with yourself. Bosses don’t cancel. This one is one of my personal favorite reasons to follow a program. You put it in your calendar to make it a habit and a priority. This one is meant to be more of a “self-care” tip, it is time to put yourself first, and this is one way to stick to that plan.
4. Mixing It Up
Part of the plan is to mix it up. Science calls this progressive overload. Once your fitness level exceeds a particular workout format, you will want to change it up, whether by adding weight, moving faster, or an overall change of movement. Following a program can guide you on the next change you need to reach your goals more quickly. You can add a dumbbell to your bodyweight exercises to change it up. Progressions are something we do in the SunnyFit ® app. We have so many instructors who set great workout programs for you to follow along at your own pace.
Fitness programs are a great way to reach goals, and getting fit with a group can help you have fun doing it. The upbeat music and the positive influence from the instructors will make your workout feel simpler by taking the guesswork out of it, and the community will keep you motivated. Check out our STAR fitness programs in the SunnyFit ® app, where you can experience the benefits of a workout program for yourself!
1. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705–717
2. Dunton, G. F. (2017). Ecological Momentary Assessment in Physical Activity Research. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 45(1), 48–54. https://doi.org/10.1249/jes.0000000000000092. Accessed 15 July 2023.
3. KRAEMER, W. J., & RATAMESS, N. A. (2004). Fundamentals of Resistance Training: Progression and Exercise Prescription. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 36(4), 674–688. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000121945.36635.6. Accessed 15 July 2023.
4. American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2017
5. Raymond J, Bartholomew JB. The effect of manipulating goal content and autonomy support climate on outcomes of a PE fitness unit. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2016;27:80-90. Accessed 17 July 2023.
6. Ekkekakis, P. (2003). Pleasure and displeasure from the body: Perspectives from exercise. Cognition and Emotion, 17(2), 213–239. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930302292. Accessed 17 July 2023.
7. Kraemer, R. R., Durand, R. J., Acevedo, E. O., Johnson, L. G., Kraemer, G. R., Hebert, E. P., & Castracane, V. D. (2004). Rigorous Running Increases Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I Without Altering Ghrelin. Experimental Biology and Medicine, 229(3), 240–246. https://doi.org/10.1177/153537020422900304. Accessed 19 July 2023.
8. Irwin, B. C., Scorniaenchi, J., Kerr, N. L., Eisenmann, J. C., & Feltz, D. L. (2012). Aerobic Exercise Is Promoted when Individual Performance Affects the Group: A Test of the Kohler Motivation Gain Effect. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 44(2), 151–159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-012-9367-4. Accessed 19 July 2023.
9. Andersson, M. A., & Christakis, N. A. (2016). Desire for weight loss, weight-related social contact, and body mass outcomes. Obesity, 24(7), 1434–1437. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.21512. Accessed 19 July 2023.