How The Rules of Improv Apply To Group Fitness

By Tahnee Lacey

Ten years ago I moved from Massachusetts to Chicago to study improv. When you take improv classes you learn the fine art of play as well as what we call “the rules” of improv. Three-ish years ago I walked into my first group fitness class and realized that the rules of improv which were so ingrained in my brain are entirely applicable in this world too.

How so? Here are three of the rules:

1) Focus on the present

In improv you don’t want to watch a scene that is talking about the past or future event. You want to be in the moment and see those events. With group fitness, you always want to focus on the present moment. When you walk into class, let your day go. Focus on the moves, the reps and most importantly, your form. Let the energy of the instructor and group motivate you and add your own energy to the mix.

2) Support each other

When you join a group fitness class the idea of the individual goes away. You are not alone. If you couldn’t tell by the name, you are part of a group. A group of soon to be friends working towards a common goal: fitness. Whether this is your first class or your millionth, you are in it together, cheering each other on until you get to that cool down. This doesn't mean you are required to talk to everyone in class but it will definitely enhance your experience.

3) Yes and

You may have heard this mantra previously (shout out to Amy Poehler’s book) but what does it mean? Yes and is the acceptance of what’s given to you and then heightening. What does this mean for fitness? You have a great instructor that spends a good deal of time putting together a workout. It’s up to you to say yes to the class but then say “and” by choosing the more difficult level whether that means increasing your weight or reps. Saying I can and I will is more life changing than saying I can’t and no.

I encourage you to think about the fundamentals of improv the next time you join a group fitness class or group run and if you can figure out how object work applies to fitness let us know in the comments!


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Tahnee Lacey is a Chicago-based avid runner, lover of group fitness (trainer and participant), owner of cats and appreciator of donuts. You can follow her on Instagram here