We’ve all had those moments when getting up at 6 a.m. for boot camp seems the last thing you’d want to do but motivation from a workout partner helps you get out of bed any way, or when you can’t seem to get through the last set of squats but then you look around and see others powering through their workout which gives you a sudden rush of energy to push through the last round.
There is obviously a hidden power in working out in a social setting, but why exactly are we more motivated in the gym when there are others around us?
Growing Trend of Group Fitness
According to experts, the old saying about ‘strength in numbers’ has a lot of truth to it, especially when it comes to working out. Personal Trainer and fitness entrepreneur Rob McGillivray, says that group classes such as dance, aerobics and spinning may not be a new concept, but they’ve quickly risen in popularity over the past two decades because of a ‘tribe mentality’ that has taken over the fitness culture.
McGillivray says that the emergence of group fitness trend proves the significance of exercising in a motivational pack, and how the power of numbers can be used to improve physical and mental competitive performance.
Group fitness isn’t just a trend, it actually has proven health benefits. A recent study published in the journal of Social Sciences shows that other people’s actions have a strong impact on us. The participants of the research were more likely to modify their exercise behaviors when they were surrounded by other people.
Another study published in the journal of Obesity revealed that people who are overweight see faster weight-loss progress when they exercise with friends who motivate them to reach their fitness goals.
A study found that almost 95 per cent of the participants who started a fitness program with a friend managed to finish the program in comparison to 76 per cent of those who started it alone. Those who worked out in groups were also more likely to maintain their weight-loss progress after finishing the program.
Training manager, Michael Yabut, says that consistency is key for achieving fitness goals, but people tend to skip workout sessions more often when they don’t have anyone to hold them accountable.
People also tend to push themselves harder during an exercise when they feel a certain peer pressure from others around them. This is called the Köhler Effect which basically means that no one wants to be the weakest member of a group. Friendly competitiveness in the gym isn’t necessarily a bad thing because, in the end, you’re the beneficiary of every extra rep or minute you perform during your exercise.
One study showed that people improved their plank time by almost 25 per cent when they performed the exercise with a friend who was more capable in the gym. This shows that working out in a group can actually improve your performance and help you burn more calories through increased intensity or time spent exercising.
Understand Your Physical Limits
John Ford, a certified physiologist says that people who exercise in group setting develop a positive sense of competitiveness which helps them push harder during the workout sessions and achieve their goals faster. But the effect is only noticed in people who surround themselves with more capable individuals.
Everyone is capable of performing a little more than they think they can, but what prevents them from achieving maximum results are their own mental barriers and self-doubt. When you see others around you sweating buckets and grunting loudly, the mental barriers come down and you find new motivation to push yourself as hard as you can.
A research from Kansas State University revealed that participants who worked out with a fit friend increased their intensity and exercise duration by 200 per cent.
However, the competitiveness can seriously backfire if you’re pushing beyond your physical limitation which is only a recipe for a disastrous injury. If you’re new to fitness, it’s wiser to start alone with the basic movements and get your body accustomed to the exercises before joining a group class with much advanced gym-goers.