Group Fitness Classes – Male : Female ratio & thoughts

Before 2017 I had never attended a group exercise class. Ever.  However in 2017 they have become my favourite form of workout where I really feel I’ve pushed myself and actually starting to see some physical changes too. What I have noticed is that nearly every class, of every type is dominated by women; whether its running, treadmill, floor, core, cardio and even strength.

I have no idea why that is and I strongly recommend these classes to any men that are wanting to try these or have heard about them an wondered what they’re all about. They work you very, very hard and I’ve found the smaller, more intimate classes to be more beneficial as the coaches spend more time pushing you, upping your weight or correcting you’re form. Not only that, you actually meet like minded people who are there to train hard and in turn push you further as well!

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Here’s a few examples of the group exercises I take part in and what they’re all about.

Nike running – speed work mainly on a track or taking on some of the hills around London. The session varies every week led by Rory and Omar. It really is for all abilities and usually attracts 50+ people. People seem hesitant to sign up to this thinking they won’t be quick enough… false! Everyone I know that has attended has really enjoyed these sessions. I’ve found them very beneficial in correcting my form and a vital part of marathon training too. Duration 90mins, Price free.


Ministry Does Fitness – Ministry varies depending on what day you attend; Monday – Cardio, Tuesday – Strength, Wednesday –  Endurance, Thursday – Core, Friday/Saturday – Showcase. It’s a small studio with a max number of participants at 28. There are 7 different stations that you work around and this can include; treadmill, battle ropes, squat jumps, situps etc. They’re HIIT workouts where the coach and assistant really do push you in each one. I’ve found every class very challenging yet very enjoyable. Duration 45 mins, Price £14


Barry’s Bootcamp – So I may have only attended on Barry’s session but EVERYONE talks about it, and well even David Beckham attends these classes, and I am not arguing with him. Again these vary depending on what day you go, from a full body workout, to arms & abs, butt & legs etc! The class I attended was half treadmill work with varying speeds and incline, then half floor work including bicep curls, sit ups, burpees and mountain climbers. Another sweat fest, these are great fat burners and you really feel like you’ve pushed your body afterwards. The shakes are great too! Duration 60 mins, Price £20


HIIT classes at EasyGym/Virgin Active/Nuffield Health. I have only taken part in a few of these but I’m sure everyone that regularly attends the gym will have seen these. They vary in difficulty, in activity and in duration. If you don’t feel pushed when you attend the gym on your own then enquire or try one of these. They’re great quick workouts for burning all the calories and usually have plenty to choose from. Duration varies, Price free (with membership).


These are just a few of the many available group exercises that are very easily available to anyone. I’m intrigued to try more and really glad I decided to give them a go this year. Men – If you haven’t tried these for whatever reason then I really do suggest you give one a go. They can work great as part of any fitness plan and working out with others does tend to push you that little bit more. is a great article on the specific benefits gained from HIIT if you are still unsure.

In the past week I have attended 4 of these classes (3 @ Ministry, 1 @ Barry’s) and in total there have been only 5 other males in the class. I was on my own for 2 classes – a core work out and an endurance session.

nike rory

“With 48 percent of club members male, one would think that participation in group exercise classes would also be split down the middle. Surprisingly, according to the latest IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, only 38% of group exercise participants are men.”

This has made me think about why I never tried a session before this year. I found a few reasons why there’s an uneven split and I can definitely relate to these myself;

  • Titles and descriptions of the offerings: words like “booty,” “toning” or “sculpt” are just not enticing to men.
  • Instructors: it is predominantly women who teach, so that may be off-putting to men. And, with the majority of class attendees women, words of encouragement like “come on ladies” may come out without the instructor realising it, thus souring men from joining.
  • Group dynamic: women tend to like to work out together and feel like they are part of a community, while men, at the club at least, are more apt to go in, do their thing, and leave, often not engaging with others.
  • Music: men may shy away if they think the class is set to a Katy Perry or Ariana Grande soundtrack

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I’m intrigued to know from both men and women why they think this is. Do you feel they are targeted to women more? Do you think they benefit women more? What would make you more inclined to try a HIIT or group exercise?

I for one will definitely be using these as part of my Berlin Marathon training plan!



  1. A great post and a really interesting issue. I’m not really one for classes though I started pilates this year for injury prevention. Small classes and usually about 20% men. I know for my club’s beginner runners’ course, 90% of attendees are women. I’m not sure why this is the case. Perhaps some folks don’t want to be seen as beginners?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love group fitness classes. I attend step aerobics (all female, no males attend), Pilates (mainly women, but more and more men seem to be attending), kettlercise (again mainly women, but 6-8 males) and circuits (probably the most evenly split class in terms of males and females).

    I find I work a lot harder during a class than I would doing a workout at home and I don’t like going to the gym so they are perfect for me and compliment my running too.

    I do think you are right that some classes, especially the titles seem to be aimed at women but I also sometimes think it’s down to people’s own perceptions and ideas of what each class will be like. This may have an impact on them trying it out or not. I didn’t think I would like kettlercise or circuits but after giving them a try I realised I could push myself hard and challenge myself. Sometimes it’s just about giving it a go, you won’t know if you like it until you try it.

    Our instructors are both female, but they are tough task masters and push us really hard. Don’t be fooled into thinking women instructors can’t be tough – you haven’t met Nicki the killer queen!

    I’m glad you have found classes you like lovely. I’m sure they will benefit you when you are marathon training too.

    (Sorry for the really long ramble! I hope some of it makes sense!)



  3. Good post Matt! In my experience working in the industry, men usually go for Circuits, Spinning and maybe Boxercise or similar. I agree the names of the classes are likely to put men off but the chances are, the names were created as a result of being mainly populated by women. I used to teach Metafit and I was lucky if I got more than 1 guy in a class at any one time. I wonder if it’s a macho thing and a fear of being shown up by women?
    From when I worked in gyms, the majority of males were quite happy to do their own thing, work away with weights or do cardio at their own pace etc whereas the majority of females preferred going to classes and be around their pals, relying on group motivation than self-motivation


    • I definitely think the macho thing has to affect numbers. I was always happy to do my own thing too, but now realised I work a lot harder in these group sessions. Appreciate that comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

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