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marathon-2346948_640.jpgWhen was the last time you were able to go for any length of time without looking at your smartphone? An hour? Two hours? Ten minutes? Our electronic devices are an essential part of our lives. We use them to connect with friends and family, check the weather, manage data, stalk a potential mate, view cat videos, and navigate all aspects of our daily lives. While mobile technology has unprecedented advantages, excessive electronic stimulation may produce negative consequences as well. So, are you using your phone, or is it using you?

Exercise is a leading antidote to too much media exposure. And, our smartphones are great about giving us information regarding our workouts: heart rate, calorie expenditure, etc. But, technology creeping into our group fitness classes causes its own set of problems.

Group fitness offers social opportunities, mental health benefits, and psychological support. Safe and effective workouts in a fun and social environment, consistent scheduling, instructor motivation, education, and accountability are all reasons to take group fitness classes.

But, the issue lies in the fact that many people just can’t seem to disconnect from their devices and connect in real life. They feel the need to text between tracks in Body Pump; check Facebook before core work in Body Attack, or reply to an email during Shavasana in a yoga class.

In a study published in Computers in Human Behavior last year, it was found that people who texted during a 20-minute workout spent almost half of that time in a low-intensity zone. Those who worked out without their device gained much more benefit.

Another issue is that smartphone usage while exercising can cause many people to work out in a dissociative state. This is a condition where the person is unable to listen or “tune in” to cues the body is giving with respect to exercise intensity. It’s much healthier to enter an associative state: one in which you listen to your body. You’re better able to focus your energy and attention on what you are feeling, connecting with other class participants, and listening to cues from your instructor.

Finally, don’t you deserve time for yourself? A class is usually 30-minutes to an hour. What if, next time you took class, you left your phone behind? After the panic wore off, how would the class feel? How would YOU feel? Would you make new friends, commiserating about how hard the instructor made you work? Would you be able to completely immerse yourself if the workout? Would you be able to “be in the moment” and appreciate the freedom of being device-free? Try it next time and see!