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Summer is upon us, and more people are ready to bite the bullet and finally implement a workout regimen into their schedules. Getting started can be intimidating, especially when you lack motivation. If lacing up the sneakers and forcing yourself on a solo run around the local track isn’t exactly appealing, there’s an alternative: group fitness.

Illiana Romero specializes in just that as the group fitness manager at Life Time's Cypress studio. Once a Life Time club member herself, Romero found her instructors so inspirational she left the corporate world to join the team and follow her passion—working out.

A former runner, Romero was always drawn to “the idea of tribe and community,” she says. When an injury forced her to change her fitness routine, she found the group classes at Life Time offered the sense of unity she was seeking. Now, she wants to share that community with others. 

Illiana Romero teaches a group class at Life Time.

What are the benefits of working out in a group?

The community is very special—the level of entertainment and fun really helps to keep members with Life Time. However, the sense of community also keeps our clients accountable. As an instructor, if I haven’t seen you in a in a while I will check in and ask where you have been. Furthermore, members keep other members accountable and motivated. People use social media as a way to stay active with each other.

How can people integrate group classes into their workout routine?

We try to match up people with their commitments and what they are able to do; we have a broad range of classes to offer. In the end, it’s all about having a plan of action. If you have a plan, then you feel like you can move forward. If you don’t have a plan, then it’s simply a wish. We could all want flatter tummies or to lose five pounds, but if you don’t know how to get there, it’s like aimlessly floating in the universe.

What would you say to those who are intimidated by the prospect of working out in front of others?

What’s special about Life Time is we really try to combine the back row with the front row, so everyone feels included. Having said that, I understand if someone isn’t used to that big of a group. We also offer smaller groups that allow people to focus on form and techniques so they can be comfortable transitioning into a bigger group. 

How do options vary by skill or interest?

We have straight cardio classes, cardio and strength, and some are just strength. All classes are available to everyone, all at different levels. The [instructor] will help with the progression of the class, but people can go at their own speed. Our Strike kickboxing class is very cardio-based and brings out the badass in everyone. Our cycle program is one of the best in the state, if not the nation. [The Edge Class] is very results-driven, metric-based, and a party-like atmosphere.

What’s your favorite class?

The Gluteus Maxout. I love it. It was created by one of our in-house instructors, Ashlie Sustaita, and is one of our best calorie workouts. Great for glute-building and leg-sculpting. 

What advice do you have for people trying to get in the habit of working out?

I live by the philosophy that fitness is not a destination, it is truly a journey and a way of life. I strive to coach people to fall in love with the process—nothing good comes out of the comfort zone.

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