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ePublication of Australian Fitness Network

You may ‘know’ that working out in a group seems easier somehow, but new research backs up this innate wisdom with science.

Research recently conducted on behalf of Les Mills and published in Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology has illustrated the importance of getting group dynamics right in order to retain club members.

Discussing the findings, Les Mills’ Head of Research, Bryce Hastings, said; ‘We wanted to take our knowledge of the group effect in a group fitness environment up a notch in a bid to more fully scope its effect(s) on a club member’s experience.’

Conducted by Dr Blair Evans of Penn State University, the Les Mills Group Dynamics Study saw a concept known by exercise psychologists as ‘groupness’ scrutinised. Groupness relates to the extent to which someone feels that the group impacts their workout; if they feel part of a close-knit group, their perceived level of groupness is rated as high, while a lack of group interaction equates to low perceptions of groupness.

After analysing 97 study participants’ feelings about a range of group fitness workouts over a two-week period, Evans said the majority of the findings were in line with what they had suspected when they embarked on the study. However, the data revealed an additional, equally important, finding correlated with high levels of groupness.

‘Our research showed conclusively that high levels of groupness have a significant bearing on peoples’ satisfaction, enjoyment and exertion but we now have the evidence to demonstrate its influence on a person’s intention to return to a class.

‘This means groupness has a bigger impact on peoples’ behaviour in a group fitness environment than first thought, so our recommendation to our club partners is to use it as an additional attendance tool.

‘Get groupness right and your members’ commitment to your group fitness offering is solid; choose not to prioritise it and you may lose them’ said Evans.

Hastings said carefully-crafted strategies to enhance groupness are a critical component of designing and delivering group fitness workouts, but that without skilled instructors to create the sense of ‘we’, success would be elusive.

‘Our instructors are armed with the talent, skills and resources to help people feel like they’re working out as a true group with shared goals. They know how to take what we know from the science and turn it into a positive experience for members. This latest piece of research means we now have a deeper understanding of the power of group dynamics and the far-reaching influence these complex phenomena have on member behaviour’ Hastings said.

For more information on research conducted by Les Mills visit

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