I’ve enjoyed lots of different types of exercise. I love variety, and get bored with the same routine. Running, swimming, biking, weight training, HITT, yoga, Zumba, kickboxing, sports, etc. are all a blast to me. Some are easier to do on your own than others, which not only makes them convenient, but often cheaper. However, one of my favorite environments to exercise in is in groups.
I grew up moving a lot. No, I wasn’t in the witness protection program. As if I would admit to that. My dad was in the military, so we would move along with him with each new assignment every two to three years. Sure, it was exhausting sometimes having to constantly make new friends, but since my sisters and I played soccer, we would join new soccer teams in order to meet people.
People are much quicker to open up to you and accept you when you are their teammate than when you are a new and unfamiliar face roaming the school halls (We couldn’t help it all the hallways looked the same at first). On the ideal team, you bond through the common trials you face together, and support and encouragement each other in order to survive. You compete with each other because you don’t want to fall behind the others in skill, resulting in a force to be reckoned with by opposing teams. You support and encourage each other when one teammate is straggling behind or frustrated with themselves, because you know that you need every player to be at their best for the team to thrive.
My love for team sports probably contributes most to why I love group exercise. Even though people are usually at different levels of fitness, those people are there with one common goal: to workout. Working towards one common goal makes group exercise like a team. It’s not obvious in lower intensity classes like yoga or Pilates, but in higher intensity boot camp classes, you start to see a different mentality. You see people competing with each other and driving others to push themselves. You feel the supportive environment and mutual respect for other members as you strive to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be at that moment in time. You see people coming back for more, because they know they couldn’t push themselves to work as hard alone as they do with others.
This isn’t excluded to just group exercise classes. Just having a workout partner gives you this benefit. One of you decides it’s time to amp up your workout, and the other decides to do the same to keep up. Having The Team mentality is why some people are more motivated to continue to workout in groups rather than by themselves. They recognize that creating the supportive yet competitive environment of The Team requires each member to be an active part of it. They don’t want to miss a workout so that they don’t let down the other members of The Team who are going to need that encouragement. It’s even more exaggerated when you just have a workout partner, because if you are gone, there is other external source of encouragement.
It’s true that after a while, you start to develop a love for exercise and are more motivated to make it a habit. But what about those days when everything seems to have gone wrong and you don’t seem to have the energy to make it to the gym? Or you’ve plateaued and are frustrated with your workouts? It’s those days, when it’s absolutely worth it to have someone give you encouragement when you don’t seem to have any left for yourself.
Granted, it can be hard to create that environment for yourself. Some people truly prefer working out by themselves, and that’s great. It can be a great way to have some time to yourself. Besides, Group exercise classes cost money, and not everyone has spare cash. Workout partners can be great, but it can be hard work finding someone who has the same goals as you and can be counted on to show up instead of always skipping out on you. However, just keep asking around. There are more people than you would think that are willing to workout with you, but haven’t met someone with the same goals yet either. And if you can find enough people, why not organize your own little boot camp for free? Take turns coming up with a workout, and meet in a park or parking lot somewhere. Be creative. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find that workouts in a pack push you harder than being the lone wolf.