It is true that a group of people has more influence than one person, but is more really “merrier” when it comes to fitness?
There are so many groups of people who come together to exercise, whether it’s a mountain biking club, running group or group exercise class. Heck, we are even doing yoga with goats! So, what is it about working out in a group setting that has so many people ditching their solo gym sessions?
Working out in a group or with a partner, not only gives you a competitive edge and accountability, but it also can boost your mood, add variety and increase confidence.
My friend and the Wellness Coordinator for the Spurlino Family YMCA, Athena Reed, joined a run group a few years ago after being a solo runner for years. The group has helped her with accountability and consistency but, beyond that, she says she loves running with the group. Reed says they are always there for each other to motivate and support all the women in the group, no matter how fast or slow they run. They even show up to races they are not running just to cheer on other runners from the group.
She says she has become faster over the past year without even trying. Reed loves the community, and that she can run and laugh at the same time. Though she still occasionally goes on solo runs, she says “they are boring.”
In a gym session, working out with others can add variety to your workout. You will always have a spotter and you can do some partner-assisted moves. It is also a good idea to have each person contribute to the workout to vary exercise selection. You might learn something new, or challenge your body in a different way.
When exercising with others, we also tend to put in more effort, especially when working out with someone that we perceive as fitter than us. Beginners learn from the more experienced ones in the group, and that can lead to more confidence in the gym.
It is only natural to talk about things other than exercising when meeting up with the same people on a regular basis. This is why we see so many friendships develop in group exercise classes. When I moved to Florida and joined the YMCA, I made so many friends through a boot camp class I attended every week. Now, 15 years later, not only are we still friends but our children have grown up together and I consider many of them family.
Here at the YMCA, we see so many diverse groups of friends, both young and old, that have built relationships with each other through group exercise. Our Silver Sneakers members come for fitness, but stay because of the meaningful friendships they’ve created. That increased socialization has health benefits well beyond what you gain from exercising alone.
Angela Fulgieri is a Program Director for the Tampa Metropolitan YMCA. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.