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HealthZette

Fitness is Better with Friends

Personal dedication is key, but 'group think' can be a kick in the pants

When we were kids, getting outdoors and running around didn’t feel like a workout at all. It was fun.

So why, as adults, are we forever running solo or heading to the gym alone rather than with our best fitness buddies?

If you’re stuck in a rut with your workout routine, perhaps it’s time to phone a friend. Research has proven time and again that people who participate in group training, or who have a workout, partner achieve better results than those who go it alone.

Mia Griffin, a 22-year-old from Queenstown, Maryland, knows the benefits firsthand. 

“I prefer working out with friends because usually I end up running or working out longer when I’m doing it with someone rather than by myself,” Griffin told LifeZette.

There are many benefits to group workouts (and even if you know them cold, these pointers bear repeating).

You Get Personal Attention

Class settings usually mean closer attention from instructors, provided the class or gym isn’t too big. Consider how much help you might want or need with a new activity before spending money on a gym membership or classes. Boutique studios are often better able to cater to your needs and instruction. Classes tend to be smaller.

There is Good Camaraderie 
The social aspect of group workouts has been shown to offer tremendous returns. You’re surrounded by like-minded people with similar fitness interests. That time together is a great way to bond over your determination to get or stay fit.

There is Better Accountability
There are consequences if you leave your workout partner stranded or your whole group hanging if you don’t show up. The American College of Sports Medicine says accountability usually makes many of us more likely to follow through with a workout than if we exercise alone.

Working out with others also decreases the chances you’ll head back to the sofa with a bag of chips or skip the gym altogether. It eliminates the boredom of exercising alone. (Boredom is continually cited as one of the most common reasons people drop fitness goals.)

Contrary to those benefits, some people still prefer to work out on their own, partly because they don’t feel comfortable doing so in group settings. Maybe it’s been awhile since they’ve been to a gym. Maybe they’re concerned they will end up embarrassed or with an injury in a group setting.

It might also be that most classes are dominated by women. Guys tend not to participate in group fitness scenarios as much as women do.

Pirkko Markula, writing in Psychology Today, said of men steering clear of group workouts: “One respondent explained that women ‘would look at me suspiciously and question the real reason I’m there. Some may even complain that I’m there or insist that men be barred altogether.’”

She added this qualifier after another conversation with two guys on the topic: “Although both engaged in solitary exercise (such as Nordic skiing, cycling), they could not stop talking about the importance of attending their respective exercise classes. One explained how his class, led by a male physiotherapist, counterbalanced the physical stresses of his work, particularly the stretches the professional exercise leader was able to devise for the class. When I asked why he did not simply stretch on his own, this man explained that it was also important to be able to socialize with other men after the exercise class, an opportunity that was not readily present in everyday life when balancing between work and family.”