Solo workouts aren't going anywhere, but did you know there are massive benefits to working out alongside a group?
When you work out in a group exercise class, you are synchronizing your movements with the rest of the people in the class. This means you are doing the same movements as everyone else at the exact same time. Synchronized movements offer many benefits, and we're here to cover them today!
What are Synchronized Movements?
Although when you think of synchronized movements, you may think about dancing, it doesn't have to be rhythmic! Dancing is certainly a great example, but you can experience synchronized movements in any exercise class.
One great example is cycle. If you've never taken a cycling class, you may not know that we spin to the beat of the music. We also incorporate choreography to get upper-body work in.
But even if it's just a strength training class, where there is no choreography or dancing, you are still experiencing synchronized movements when you squat or do a burpee at the same time as everyone else!
Dancing and rhythm may not be your "thing," but every group exercise class thrives on synchronized movements. It simply means you're moving in sync with everyone else!
Benefits of Synchronized Movements
Higher Pain Tolerance
We all know, exercise brings us a certain amount of pain! When we exercise, we create microscopic tears in our muscles. This is a good thing, as it is what causes muscle growth, but it also creates temporary pain!
We also get sore during our workouts because of lactic acid. Here's a nice summary of why lactic acid happens:
"Oxygen in the blood is necessary to convert glucose into energy. However, when there is insufficient oxygen, the body breaks down glucose without oxygen, resulting in lactic acid."
When we're working out strenuously, we need energy more quickly than the body can get oxygen. This is why lactic acid during exercise is a common occurrence. Although lactic acid is beneficial for our bodies, it makes our muscles feel sore and tired during a workout.
But although pain is a normal aspect of exercise, people working out in sync with others have been shown to have a higher pain tolerance than those who work out alone. According to the study, you benefit from an increased pain tolerance whether you work out with friends or strangers.
Your higher pain tolerance in group classes helps you push past the part where you want to give up. It helps you keep going because everyone else is still going!
Another reason you experience increased pain tolerance during a group exercise class is the social bonding aspect.
The Conversation wrote:
"This is because when we watch someone else do the same thing at the same time as us, our brain ends up with a merged sense of us and them. It feels like we “become one.” Anyone who has ever rowed might be familiar with that moment when you hit a state of perfect synchronization with your rowing team. Suddenly you feel like you are part of something bigger than just yourself, and that you belong."
The group exercise aspect of bonding with others releases more endorphins into our bodies and helps us reach an even higher pain tolerance.
Feeling like a part of a group also yields physical health benefits. Friendships reduce the risk of mortality or developing diseases, and can also speed recovery in those who fall ill. Loneliness is devastating to our physical health. Loneliness has similar health effects as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. The lack of connections has life-threatening consequences, rivaling tobacco smoking and obesity.
Not only can group exercise classes make you feel like a part of a group you belong in, but they can also help you meet more friends. Group exercise classes are a perfect way to meet friends because they have a similar mindset to you. You also automatically have a common interest: exercise, and specifically, the type of exercise you are performing together.
They can also be a positive influence and be an "accountability partner." One study found that exercising with a friend is the key to working out more often. Especially if you attend a certain class regularly, you are bound to make friends with the other people that always attend.
Tips to Attending Group Exercise Classes
Try Something New
My number one tip is to try something new. I'll never forget when my sister invited me to my first cycle class. I was really hesitant. "I hate cycling!" I told her. But she forced me to try it, and I ended up loving it. It's now a staple in my weekly exercise routine, and my absolute favorite workout to do!
As you try classes, of course, you may not like some! That's natural. But some you'll love, and you'll never want to give them up! Not only can trying something new show you that you love a new exercise, but it can also help you avoid overuse injuries. Varying your routine is essential to working new muscles and giving the ones you always use a break!
Don't be Afraid to be "Bad"
We all like being good at what we do, right? Especially in group exercise classes, there's definitely an element of a little friendly competition. But don't be afraid to not be the best. Don't even be afraid to be the worst.
Of course, when we try something new, we're not that good at it! Even if you're amazing at running, cycling may seem really challenging at first. Don't let whether you're "good" or "bad" be the determining factor for if you go back. Did you feel good moving? Then that's a win! Go back, keep trying, and watch yourself improve!
If we started out amazing at everything, there would be no room for improvement. And improving and meeting goals is arguably one of the best aspects of exercise.
Go Early, and Leave Late
Don't just go for the class! While there's minimal talking during the exercise class, before and after is when you usually will meet the most friends. Don't be nervous about interacting! You can simply compliment someone's workout outfit, or after the class, you could tell someone they did a great job.
Also, don't be afraid to introduce yourself to the instructor. They love knowing their class participants, and by introducing yourself, your instructor will now know your name to compliment your form or your abilities next time. It's always great to hear an instructor call your name during class to tell you how great you're doing.
Get out of your Comfort Zone
Working out solo has its benefits, of course. Plus, it's not going anywhere. You can still work out most of the time solo if you prefer! But try to get out of your comfort zone every so often to try a new class. The people you'll meet and the joy you'll experience are worth a few moments of nervousness and uncertainty. And seeing yourself improve over the long run is worth not being great in the beginning!