I do it constantly. “Oh please,“ I say as the class embarks on the last 5 minutes of abdominal work, “I’ll do that on my own when I get home.”
Let’s take a guess at how many times I actually follow through. Very few. And I’m a pretty disciplined person when it comes to fitness.
If you experience the same thing, you’re not alone. There have been many studies on the benefits of group exercise. One such study looked at competitive runners, those who trained in teams and those who trained alone. The runners who trained in groups performed better in competition – every time.
Why is this the case? There are a few reasons staying for those 5 minutes of abs in class may be more worthwhile then doing them at home (if you do them at all).
Most exercise classes, and certainly ours at Accelerate, have very thoughtful programming intended to work muscle groups in a particular manner to achieve muscle failure or fatigue. In addition, these exercises are put in an order and at a pace that maximizes your heart rate.
As someone who works out in the basement of my home several mornings a week, I know the importance of a programmed workout. I swear by Accelerate Online (in beta test) because they are pre-written and indicate how much working and rest time, which keeps me focused, even when I have to workout alone.
In group exercise, there is a trainer who knows how to push clients. Read our previous post, “Trainer or Cheerleader” to know what kind of trainer you are dealing with. Depending on the answer, the class leader could provide you more benefit than you even realize. Good trainers fix your form, but they also push you to go faster and to focus on the skills where you are weak.
Just like in weight loss efforts, to fully maximize your workout, you need to find a “tribe” that matches your workout style. People are social and masters at reading body language of others. In a quick scan of facial expressions, it’s easy to see whether your “tribe-mates” are working hard or slacking off. This will rub off. If you are an overachiever who wants to be pushed, you will get nowhere in a class of people who are there to chat and have a social meet-up.
Just today, we had a new edition to our 5am group. “Lester” (it’s his real name actually) pulled out the 85 pound weight for Goblet squats. I looked at my 65 and immediately upped it by 10 pounds. Danielle and Sean followed suit. The addition of one new member increased the weight of 3 people in one shot.
So next time we get out our mats for the 5 minutes of abs. I’ll force myself to stick around. And I’ll remember that I only work as hard as the next person and they only work as hard as me.