Goooood afternoon tigers and Happy Friday!
Thought I’d start your weekend with some research behind why it’s beneficial to your health and well-being to workout alongside other people. AKA Group Fitness 101. This could mean a variety of things such as
Playing tennis with a friend
Playing sports like soccer or basketball with a team
Going to a group fitness class not knowing anyone
Going to a group fitness class with a friend
Joining a run club group
Training with a trainer
You get the idea.
Let’s start off by diving (ha ha punny) into a few basic reasons as to why group fitness is good for your health.
Increases commitment to a fitness routine
- When you tell a friend you’ll go to a 6am HIIT 45-minute class with them, you hold each other accountable, which improves consistently. It takes 21 days to form a habit, let’s get going!
- Being surrounded by 15 other sweaty bodies that are working hard and bettering their mental, emotional, and physical health will likely motivate you to keep going and do that extra dolphin pushup.
- For example, I recently took a CRAZY HARD, CRYING SWEAT class last Friday morning at Concrete Jungle (first off, shouldn’t the name have been my first warning sign??) Honestly, I didn’t think I’d even be able to make it through one rotation of skiers and wall balls with my partner. I felt like I was holding her back due to my lack of “body-builderness”. I was surrounded by legit bodybuilders, both male and female, who were incredibly impressive and hardworking. I made it to the 55-minute mark and we had one more set to do, which would take 5 minutes. I was like eh nah nope I’m out this round, I made it this far, I am proud. Butttt the girls were like eh nah nope, get up to the skiers and do the box jumps because you can do it. And, with their help and guidance, I completed the final 5 minutes. I wouldn’t have been able to push myself to do it if I hadn’t been surrounded by these awesome women. And that’s badass
“We found that when you’re performing with someone who you perceive as a little better than you, you tend to give more effort than you normally would alone,” says Brandon Irwin
Try new types of workouts
- When people work alongside each other and try new activities together that may seem intimidating, you’ll feel 10x more accomplished and proud of your friend when you’re done. This idea makes it much more fun to try new workouts. Plug: check out ClassPass (linked)
- Over the last two weeks, I’ve challenged myself through group fitness by completing a variety of classes across #NYC so I could live into writing about the health benefits of group fitness
- Ryde 45 (2x) –cycling
- The Monster Cycle –cycling
- Meditation in UES –visual guided meditation
- Concrete Jungle –strength + cardio power training
- Core strength class –strength
Now it’s time to get all Bill Nye the science guy on you.
Let’s begin with a mini-study conducted in 2017 which included a small sample size of 69 medical students. To better understand the science behind working out, the students were asked to pick which of three groups they wanted to participate in for 12 weeks.
Study 1 n=69
- Fitness group class (Core training class with other people)
- Health enhancement group (group activities like lifting or running either alone or with up to two other people)
- Control group (Walking or biking as a way to get from point A to point B)
- Fitness group class
- 12.6% increase in mental, 24.8% increase in physical, and 26% increase in emotional health on average
- Health enhancement group
- 11% increase in mental, 0% increase in physical, and 0% increase in emotional health on average
- Control group
- No change
The medical students who participated in the fitness classes had an overall increase in quality of life and outlook as well as decreased stress.
So, why might this be the case?
One reason is behavioral synchrony. Behavioral synchrony occurs when an individual is working out with a group and the movements are synchronized or at the same time. This is likely to release the “feel good” hormones, which is why research is seeing an increase in quality of life for people who regularly participate in group fitness classes.
behavioral synchrony: coordinating the body + the mind = zen
Now, to get a better understanding of behavioral synchrony, let’s look at a rowing study from 2013.
- Individuals were recruited to participate in a rowing class for 45 minutes.
- Two groups: Group rowers vs. Solo rowers
- Results: The individuals who rowed with the group had a higher pain tolerance, likely because of the greater release of endorphins or the “feel good” hormones due to synchronized movements in a group setting
To sum all of this up…..
Any type of physical activity reaps positive rewards such as longer life expectancy, more smiles, and increased productivity. From my own personal experience, I’ve found a great balance between lifting and doing cardio on my own as well as engaging in fitness classes on other days, like a 70/30 split.
Sadly, only about 27% of men and 19% of women, ages 18-64, are meeting today’s fitness guidelines.
Today’s fitness guidelines
- 150 minutes of moderate intensity training/week OR 75 minutes of vigorous training/week
- Strength/resistance training 2x/week
Certain states like Colorado are above average when it comes to people getting to the gym or taking a hike on a trail. Then there are states on the opposite side of the spectrum like Mississippi who is way below the National average. So, we should be investing and educating even more in these less healthy states to promote health equity to increase mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being.
Working out not only improves your physical health, but research shows it decreases stress and improves quality of life, which correlates with increased mental well-being.
Set SMART goals (TODAY!!!!! not Monday *Insert emoji looking up*) and push yourself outside of your comfort zone when it comes to fitness. Plus, nothing ever good came from sitting in your comfort zone anyways.
Sidenote: Music plays a HUUUGE role in how your workout is going as well. Tempo is everything! I’ve been going to a cycling class where you cycling to the beat of the music and it’s really kept me motivated. Oh, and keeps my heart rate just where I need it!