Most of us wind up becoming a lot like the people we spend the most time with. Whether that’s your family or friends, it’s easier to practice good habits when the people closest to you model and encourage those habits. That goes for staying fit, too.
Exercising with like-minded people who are pursuing health and fitness can help challenge and inspire your personal performance so you can reach your fitness goals more quickly.
There are several ways that working out in a group can help keep you motivated. Working out with a group can also make the time you spend working out more effective than if you were to exercise on your own. Your groupies will cheer you on, one lunge at a time.
This post touches on a few of the benefits of working out with a community. It uncovers some of the logic behind what makes working out in a group setting more enjoyable and efficient than working out by yourself.
Humans are social creatures. That’s why waking up at 5:30am to work out takes on a different meaning when you know that you’re heading to the gym, ready to crush a workout with your friends.
Gym-goers in a group setting often find themselves quickly turning from strangers into friends. Few things create the kind of bond as commiseration over a coach’s unexpected call for a extra set of squats.
It’s easier to stick to a group workout routine than one that you have to implement on your own. If you know that one of your friends will notice your absence and follow up with a text to see if you’re alright, you’re a lot less likely to hit snooze and skip class on Monday morning.
With the power of the tribe functioning in your favor, you’ll not only be more consistent with your workouts, but you’ll keep at them for a longer time. If you like the people that go to your studio or gym, you’re more likely to want to go back.
By having a group of people willing to keep you accountable for your workouts, you’ll be consistent in your approach. Whether you’re working towards weight loss, strength training, or weightlifting, this translates to seeing results more quickly than if you were working out less frequently. Visible progress, in turn, keeps you motivated to keep exercising.
Group classes promote progress in other ways besides modeling and encouraging good habits between friends. Often, it also leads to some healthy competition. Some athletes have a natural talent that allows them to excel. Others have to work harder and smarter to achieve similar levels of fitness. In a group setting, you’ll have a spectrum of people working out with you. That can encourage you to push yourself a little further and put in a little more effort than you would if you were doing the same thing at home by yourself.
The group’s encouragement is especially important on those days when you didn’t want to get out of bed but decided to come out and exercise anyway. They may tease you or shout at you to endure one more rep or hold on for a few seconds longer when you wouldn’t otherwise feel like doing it. Hopefully, you’ll do the same for them on the days you have it together.
Help You Set Realistic Goals
The best person in the class can serve as inspiration for the others—a tangible, real-life example of what you’re working towards. If you’re somewhere in the middle, it can be heartening to see that hard work yields results.
It’s easier to gauge your own progress in group settings, too. If you perform similar tasks over time, you can use the group metric to see how much you’ve grown after being with the group for a few months. During that time, expect your workout buddies to continue to cheer on your progress.
When everyone works together on a team, you often see stronger players pick up the slack so that the whole team is positioned to win. Simultaneously, less talented players put in more effort so that they don’t let their teammates down. Working out with others brings out the best in each individual who’s willing to participate in the group dynamic.
Group settings are ideal for pushing yourself further for other reasons. Members who work out with you will cheer you on to new personal records or high-five you after achieving a task because your successes are wins for them, too. That healthy competition leaves you feeling accomplished and looking forward to your next class together.
The Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that working out with a partner, especially someone more capable than you are, can increase your performance. In a study that measured time spent maintaining a plank position, those with more capable partners increased their plank time by 24%. Basically, science says that you’re more likely to push yourself if you surround yourself with people who are better than you. Group classes are a great place to do that.
Participating in a form of group exercise with the same set of people will help you form some of the deepest, longest-lasting friendships if you are open to the experience. The bank of shared experiences allows you to relate to one another on a pretty personal level. The more often you see each other, the more integral these friendships become. If you skip a few classes, expect your absence to be noted. More than a few might warrant a text or a phone call because your presence will be missed by peers.
This level of camaraderie reinforces a positive feedback loop that makes exercise pleasant, almost enjoyable. While there’s plenty of science around the mood boost caused by the release of endorphins, this social aspect also boosts your mood.
Group exercise settings can also inspire creativity. With people who are training similarly, don’t be surprised if you find that you can try something new and completely different with a partner. Maybe it’s a fun movement like a ball-toss sit up, or a situation where a spotter will make you feel more secure attempting an exercise, like a deadlift. Exercising with more than one person opens up a world of possibilities that just aren’t available when working out alone.
Exercising with a community of like-minded individuals is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success when it comes to meeting and exceeding your health and fitness goals. There are many benefits of working out in a community that make it worth your time to consider joining a gym or picking up a group activity. When you find your people, know that they’ll encourage you to perform at your best, keep you accountable, help you set realistic goals, and look forward to succeeding with you.
It’s more fun to survive a grueling workout alongside friends who become like family than it is to work out alone. Though your workouts will still be challenging, it’s different knowing that a set of people is struggling with you and that you’ll make it through together.