Part 2 – We do everything in groups; why do we exercise alone?
Want to admit it or not we humans are social creatures. We want to do things together, to be part of a group, to belong to something, to be around other people.
Yeah, I hear you few people that are denying this. Fine, I am sure there are a few people out there who like to always be alone, like Dexter, he likes being alone.
Think about this, from the moment of our birth we are with other people and rely on others. School we have peer groups, teachers, and parents. Sports teams have not just the other team members but coaches and other support staff. Some people get into music and even solo artists have a band backing them up. Artists may work alone sometimes but rely on others for feedback and appreciation of their work. Clubs – group. Associations –group. Work – group. Even online is a group experience, hence the popularity of Facebook and other social media outlets.
Groups are how we live and any sociology or psychology student will tell you that when people do not have social groups and connections they are more prone to deviant behaviour. We function best as a part of a group.
Why then do people all work out alone? Why do we join a gym, put on headphones, and glue our eyes to the TV? Walk into any mainstream gym and you see the same thing – hoards of zombies doing everything they can to not make contact with the people around them. They avoid eye contact, conversation, and always try to pick a machine or equipment as far away from everyone else as possible.
Head to the weight room and it is generally the same thing. Headphones in, eyes down, pick your little patch of turf, bring the weights too it, and make sure no one crosses your 4 foot exclusion zone. Don’t talk to me, don’t look at me, don’t give me advice, and don’t touch my equipment until I am done with it.
People join gyms alone. They go to them alone. They start running alone. They try to be self motivated. They don’t need anyone else.
There are exceptions to this, however. We see large group classes with people working out together. It is always amazing to see the friendships and connections that are made in these groups. Or people will hire a trainer, which amounts to a paid friend and motivator. You see some great workout partnerships as well, friends who workout together on a regular basis.
Here are a few things we know about those people who are not by themselves:
-They stay commited longer – research has shown this at the gym time and again, group exercise participants have a much greater chance of still exercising a year after joining
-They workout harder and get better results
-They get faster results
-They workout more often
-And this one is anecdotal, but if you go to a gym and look around you will see that I am right, these people working out with other people actually smile and appear to be having some fun. Not like the sour puss slogging it out on the treadmill pissed off because someone else changed the channel and they missed the best part of the fight on Springer.
We know that people exercising in groups have more fun, get better results, are more committed, and are more likely to exercise long term (this is why large gyms dedicate so much space to their group exercise programs and spend so much time trying to get you into those programs).
Why then do people keep trying to do things alone? And why do gyms still keep promoting alone activities?
I cannot understand it for the life of me. I am a trainer; I know what I am doing and how to do it. I don’t train alone, it’s boring as $&@(. Rather gouge out my eyes.
We are meant to be a part of something, to build connections, and have support. Workout with a dedicated partner, hire a trainer with one or two other people, join a sports team or league, or get your family involved.