Your long training season is just underway and already you're struggling to stick with it. The solution might be standing right beside you. Whether it's a running club, a spin class at the gym, or a group cycling adventure, exercise partners can help motivate endurance athletes and fitness junkies to get out of a training rut.
Experts agree that working out in a group can encourage a person to begin an exercise routine in the first place, as well as keep them committed in the long term. A review published in the Journal of Medicine and Sciences in Sport and Exercise identified a number of studies that link social support with exercise adherence.
"Having someone to experience the workout with can help keep them motivated," says Cindra Kamphoff, a certified sport psychology consultant at The Runner's Edge in Mankato, Minnesota. "By knowing others are experiencing this same thing, it normalizes the pain and discomfort that can be a part of exercise."
Group exercise has its challenges. But the pros often far outweigh logistical hurdles and other complications. If you're looking to start an exercise routine for the first time, or reignite your passion for a sport or fitness regimen, try to recruit a few friends or join an organized club, group or organization. When it comes to working out, there's strength in numbers.
Challenges to Group Exercise
- Size: If a group is too big, you can end up feeling lost in the crowd. Rather than being motivated, the group allows you to get away with giving less than your all. Be sure to find a group that provides some individual attention.
- Bad Instructors: While most coaches and teachers are good at what they do, you may need to shop around to find the best fit. Find an instructor who will motivate, not frustrate, you.
- Waning Confidence: Joining a group can take some guts, especially if you're new to the sport or activity. Look for a supportive, likeminded group to cut down on your anxiety.
- Lack of Options: Depending on where you live, group exercise options can be limited. Don't let the lack of a group stop you. Instead, consider starting your own.
Benefits of Group Exercise
- Accountability: You're less likely to skip a workout if you work out with friends in an organized group.
- Camaraderie: Working out with a group turns exercise into a social activity. It's no longer a chore, but a healthy getaway that you might just start to look forward to.
- Identity: When you workout with others, the activity tends to form a link with your identity. The group builds, feeds, and maintains that image you've created. Ultimately, it can help you stick with your routine.
- Competition: Friendly competition can help motivate you to exercise even on the days you don't feel like working out. You're less likely to skip a workout if you know your competition will be waiting for you.
- Encouragement: On the days you're feeling sick or unmotivated, the group often picks up the slack and helps restart your engine.
- Enjoyment: Working out alone can get boring and suddenly you're not having fun anymore. Sharing your training experience with others—both the challenges and triumphs—can increase the enjoyment of the activity or training routine.
Stay in shape in a fitness class.