A popular question for people who exercise is, “what do you prefer, working out alone or working out with others?” I used to love my workout time spent by myself. I looked so forward to longs runs of 2 hours, just myself and my thoughts. And then I found a friend who was, at the time, my running soulmate. We went on 2 hours run together every Saturday. We bonded over our passion. We pushed each other. We recovered together. And I was hooked.
Then I moved away from said running soulmate and was back to lonely runs, and they were just that – lonely. During that time, I experienced various injuries that had me changing my runs over to at-home workout DVDs that packed high-intensity intervals, but that made me feel like the trainer and other participants were right there in my basement, competing with me, pushing me, supporting me. And then, fast-forward a couple more years when I had the chance to actually take some group fitness classes, and I could imagine nothing else.
So, why should YOU consider working out with a group if you don’t already? I happen to love lists, so here’s a new one for you:
1. Camaraderie – we all know the saying, when the going gets tough, the tough going. A little cliche? Perhaps, but there is a lot of truth to it! When you are hitting the proverbial wall in your workout, isn’t it much easier to keep going when you know that there are others experiencing the same exhaustion? And on the other side, when you finish said tough workout, how awesome is it to look at the person next to you and share that victorious feeling that only comes from accomplishment?
2. Competition – now, before you give me the side-eye, let me explain. I am talking about healthy competition. When I first began attending strength training classes on a regular basis, I had no idea what my body was capable of in the muscle department. Each week as a beginner, I would look around and take note of the weight load that others had on their bars. And each week, as I got a little stronger, I began to catch up. In some cases, I surpassed them. My point is that, had I been going through strength training alone, I probably would never have known I was capable of such gains in strength.
3. Variety – there are limitless possibilities to the classes you can attend! No matter your sport of choice, the best athletes know that cross-training is vitally important. And say you attend one type of class that you don’t particularly enjoy, there are usually several other possibilities. And if there’s not? Talk to your gym’s manager about some of the things you’d be interested in seeing at your club.
4. Psychology – it’s no secret that human beings are wired to crave community with each other! We are social creatures! Both the certification I earned to teach group fitness and the one I am working on for personal training spend so much time reinforcing the psychological principles that drive behavior regarding exercise.
5. It is just plain fun. Come on, be honest – wouldn’t that last session on the elliptical have been more fun if your best friend was there with you doing the same thing?
If you haven’t given group fitness a try, I really recommend that you do. It definitely changed my life, and I promise it can impact yours as well.
Fitmark Ambassador 2014