By: Nicole Turchi ’15, Dance Major, Group Fitness Instructor, Campus Recreation Services
I have been dealing with depression for nearly four years. Issues with self-esteem, self-image, and an unhealthy relationship with food have been with me for longer than I can say. I spent my entire senior year of high school in a fog of debilitating thoughts, unable to connect to anything positive.
At this time, I was dealing with a severe case of Achilles tendinitis where I was unable to do any type physical activity without experiencing a lot of pain. When my physical therapist told me I could start moving again, I was still in some pain and too scared to return to my dance training.
So, I signed up for a gym membership and before I knew it, group fitness stole my heart.
The first Zumba class I took triggered a switch in me. The instructor created an amazingly positive space that made me feel like I could take ownership of my life again.
I started going to group fitness classes 3 to 5 times a week, creating a routine for myself that gave me structure and a sense of purpose.
Now, I teach four fitness classes a week myself and I could not be happier to spread the joy to all of my participants.
Staying positive in stressful times is a challenge for everyone. Here’s how taking a group fitness class can help boost your self-esteem:
- It is a safe, positive space. The first thing that drew me to fitness classes was the fact that positivity fueled the environment. The instructor is there to encourage improvement, not criticize you on what you’re lacking.
- It’s a fun, guided workout. According to WebMD, a key psychological benefit of exercise is an improved self-esteem. People often write off exercise because it is too boring, too repetitive, or they don’t know where to start.Group fitness is for people of all levels and all ages. Upbeat music drives the workout and the instructor uses a variety of movements to keep the workout fresh and exciting.
- You are not alone. I have made so many great connections through my experiences with group fitness. It is a place where you can meet like-minded people who value health and self-development.Going to a class regularly and establishing a relationship with the instructor and other participants gives you a sense of accountability that will motivate you to come on those days when you just don’t feel like working out.
- It is a time for you. In the hustle and bustle of college, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of things we have to do for our classes, our jobs, and other commitments. It can be hard to find time to focus on yourself, which is so necessary for mental wellness. By taking a fitness class, you are setting aside time just for you and and choosing to do something healthy for yourself.
- By working the body, we connect to the mind. Getting through an hour-long workout takes an amazing amount of mental effort. When the muscles get tired, the mind is there to drive you to the finish line. Your instructor will motivate you and help you believe that you are capable of the challenge – a lesson you can apply to any obstacle that comes your way.
And always remember – if you really feel like you are slipping into depression or dealing with any other kind of mental health issue, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Exercise is my through-line that keeps it all together, but I would not be where I am without the help of Maryland’s Mental Health Services or the Counseling Center.
Getting help is a sign of strength and you are worth it.
Share with us! How does taking a group fitness class make you feel?
View the complete schedule of group fitness classes offered through Campus Recreation Services.