It seems like almost everyone is getting involved in group exercise today. On any given day in a warehouse, in a park or at the gym you can find people exercising together. There’s everything from Running Clubs, Active X, Roller Striders to Boot Camp classes. So why exactly are so many people jumping the ‘lone wolf’ ship to work out with others in a group setting? What is the big attraction?
I’ve been involved in fitness for 25 years now and have belonged to power lifting and running clubs but have also been that solitary figure in the gym and on the road. I do feel this has given me a pretty good understanding of the appeal and the dynamics of both. Years ago I started my own outdoor fitness company, Gut Check Fitness, which recently got voted “A-List Best Boot Camp” San Diego and Competitor Magazine’s, “Hardest Workout.” This is where my passion lies.
So again, why join a group? There are three key reasons why so many people decide to join us at Gut Check for group fitness.
Motivation. Unless you’re that rare person that can jump out of bed at 5 am and hit the ground running, odds are getting and staying motivated are difficult for you. You are not alone. The majority of the people I’ve worked with over the years have had the same problem. That’s one of the great things about the group setting. Many people that attend a class will show up exhausted from life in general but once they join the group people they find themselves getting reenergized. Plus there’s the friendly fitness instructor there to light a fire under you rear. Aside from just getting motivated to get out of bed and exercise, there’s the motivation to really improve your current fitness level. If you work out with people faster, stronger or more fit, guess what, odds are you’re going to get into better shape. There’s an old saying that goes, “the lead dog sets the pace for the rest of the pack.” Think about it.
Accountability. Remember when you were a kid going to high school and mom would wake you up in the morning to go to school, she was holding you accountable. If you were anything like me, I wouldn’t have graduated without her wake up calls. Thanks mom! A workout group can do the same thing for your exercise routine. I’ve had countless clients over the years at Gut Check Fitness say, “I wouldn’t be there in the morning if I didn’t know that Kim, Ron, Nancy, etc were going to give me a hard time for not showing up.” Through the fear of group teasing they get out of bed. Hey, it works! Plus, there’s the friendly instructor again that keeps track of your tardiness. I take a daily roll at my classes then each week I look to see who’s been playing Harry Houdini. If I haven’t seen them for a week or two I’ll generally send them a friendly reminder with the threat of numerous burpees. This usually does the trick.
Group Camaraderie. Human beings are social creatures. Yes, a few are hermits and recluses but the majority of us love to be around other people. We love to laugh, joke and have fun. I feel this is one of the greatest products of a group workout setting. Nothing brings people closer quite like misery and physical suffering. If you’ve ever done a boot camp or similar class you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Many people sign up to get more fit and along the way become friends through this mutual ritual. Many become lifelong best of friends. My classes not only work hard together but they play hard together. We regularly have happy hours, wine tastings, and sports days do races and events together and sincerely enjoy one another’s company. It’s truly one of the best ways to meet people like you and develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible.
As I stated above, joining a workout group can help keep you motivated, hold you accountable and help you develop a sense of group camaraderie but there’s one more aspect I’d like to briefly mention and that’s actual hands on human interaction. It seems we’ve become so dependent on email and texting today that the skill of human interaction is slowly disappearing. We can do just about everything virtually today without ever talking to a person. That is outside of a group fitness setting. Here you have to get involved. Oh you can try to escape to the back of the pack but a good instructor will integrate you into the group whether you like or not. That’s why it’s called group dynamics and that’s why technology will never replace the good ole fashioned group workout setting. Get out of your cubicle, your car or your house and go meet other people that have a common interest just like you. You never know, you might just meet some real friends instead of the one’s you find online.