Strength in Numbers
The applause abates as they deliver a big collective sigh of accomplishment marking the fact that they all made it through, together. High fives and “good jobs!” are shared by everyone. This is a classic response to the end of a group training session. If you typically exercise solo you may want to consider some of the benefits to sweating in a group. Nothing feels like successfully completing a tough workout surrounded by fellow classmates and friends. It can be as easy as choosing a long-time friend to join you on a walk around the block or perhaps you have joined in on an intense sweat session at your favorite studio. Either way you are participating in the ever popular group or partner exercise trend.
So what exactly makes group training so appealing to so many? There is actually research to support it. Researchers from Oxford’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology studied the university’s rowing team. The crew was divided into teams of six, each of which performed a series of identical workouts on rowing machines. The only variable was whether the workouts were performed alone or in teams. Sure enough, thanks to a release of endorphins, the rowers’ pain threshold was consistently twice as high after exercising with their teammates compared to exercising alone even though the intensity of the workouts was identical.
People find more motivation joining a group than they would realize on their own. Many people are there for the “energy” they say. Being able to look around the room and see, despite the ups and downs of day to day, that all are there working through the physical demand together can be very motivating. Dennis Ritchie, a long time private training and group participant says,
The camaraderie of a small group takes the workout into a new level. The workouts are good, and the feeling of a small cheerleading group is even better.
In a group setting, when people are at different levels of training there can be tons of motivation to go around. People of different skills helping to motivate one another and push each other to find their limit is a powerful experience. The International Journal of Stress Management completed a study to suggest that exercise with someone may be calming but more tiring due to a potential increased competition or workload.
While participating in group training there is also usually a good sense of accountability and support. You show up to class in spite of not wanting to get out of bed and you see your friend who could have easily done the same. However, the two of you made it and now you can work toward your goals together. It becomes an “If she’s there, I’m there.” type of thinking. The group keeps us accountable to our fitness goals and often becomes part of the journey. A study published by Psycho-Oncology Journal states that breast cancer patients participating in group exercise experienced significant health benefits over the course of the intervention in multiple dimensions of fitness and vigor demonstrated by aerobic capacity, strength, flexibilty as well as quality of life measures such as increased positive affect, decreased distress, enhanced well-being, and improved functioning. The truth is many people enjoy working toward goals together with like-minded people. It can become very empowering.
That empowerment of group camaraderie is probably a key factor for many participants. Aristotle once said “Man is by nature a social animal…” Not everyone wants to be social during exercise, but that would help make sense of the joys exercisers are experiencing in these group sessions. Most of the time, we enjoy the company, the laughs, and having a good time together. Working out together is another perfect opportunity to come together with people you may not otherwise run into. It is a productive and fun way to develop friendships inside and outside the studio walls. With the availability of group training today, hanging out with your friends and working out can be combined. That being said there may still be some hurdles to overcome.
What if your friend is a distance runner but you really enjoy circuit training at BodyBasics? Your friend might be interested to know that we program our group sessions to address strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness. So even though our group sessions aren’t geared exclusively toward sport specific skills, they are planned and delivered in such a way that it reinforces the person’s underlying athleticism so that they’ll be stronger, faster, and more agile when they return to their sport or activity or just the rigors of daily life. Our group training client Virginia Moyer says it best,
A BodyBasics group class is not your typical health club class. The group classes are a combination of cardio, core and weight training. Routines are different each day so there’s no opportunity for boredom. Class size is small and allows for the personal trainer supervising the class to check in on the form and function of each participant. Routines are easily modified for class members who cannot perform certain activities due to impairment. BodyBasics group classes are a great way to benefit from the expertise of a personal trainer at a lower cost. I’ve been participating in the Body Basics group classes for four years and have improved my balance and core stability immensely. I highly recommend these classes as a great way to maintain and improve your body and mind!
These are just a few of the reasons that the group exercise trend has taken off with such momentum. People want to come together and accomplish tasks together. They want to enjoy each other’s company and have a good time getting fit. The support of the other group members can be empowering for people battling limitations or simply trying to make positive life choices. So if you are tired of going to the gym alone and doing the same workout, find a class you are interested in. Bring your friends together or ask your loved ones to join you. Once you have your crew together, get to it! Move better, feel better, live better together and enjoy the benefits of group training!
Recipe: Southwest Healthy Bean Salad
Adapted for BodyBasics by Neal McGinnis
- ½ tsp garlic salt
- 16oz can corn
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 15oz can black beans
- 5 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 medium avocados, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper
- 8 oz cheddar/monterey jack cheese
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- 1-1/2 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 3 T honey
Mix black beans and corn in a bowl and sprinkle with garlic salt. Add green onions, red bell pepper, and tomatoes. Combine dressing ingredients in sealable jar, shake vigorously. Toss salad with dressing. Serve with avocado and cheese layered on top.
1. For the meat lovers, add 2 cooked chicken breasts chopped (cool before adding in).
2. Add 1 head butterhead or romaine lettuce.
3. For those who like it hot, add a chili pepper.
Before coming to Body Basics, back in 2009, Mary used a walker due to severe osteo arthritis. Thanks to her twice weekly sessions she quickly jettisoned that walker. Not too long ago, Mary added a third session to her schedule. Her strength and flexibility have improved so much so that her chiropractor attributes her progress to the increase in her training efforts. Mary encourages everyone to do 3 sessions per week.
“I’ve been able to avoid serious pain medication, cortisone shots and surgery due to a steady workout schedule that has improved my daily functioning! I no longer hesitate to travel, shop, and garden. I truly feel grateful for every minute of my new life! Make all the excuses about the lack of time, money and energy and then give yourself the opportunity to see positive changes in your own life by increasing your investment in you.”
Mary is a hard worker who is always looking to challenge herself. Most recently, she’s joined in on our small group sessions. She loves it and is doing a fabulous job as a welcome addition to Wednesday and Saturday sessions. Her stamina and cardiovascular health has improved as a result. Most importantly, Mary has gained confidence in herself and her abilities.
Mary, it is so gratifying to see you take advantage of all that BodyBasics has to offer and to see you flourish because of your efforts!
Chris, Mike, Maureen, Amber, Zane, & Josh
to Donal Drayne for working so hard to come back strong 3 weeks after total knee replacement!