We work out to get results, whether the outcome we’re after is to be healthy, feel strong, gain confidence, achieve performance goals, improve our mood, or one of the many other perks that can come from a consistent fitness regimen.
Regardless of what your goals are, in my experience working as a trainer, I’ve seen time and time again how working out with a group can yield more significant — and longer-lasting — results than when someone tries to make progress on their own.
Hear from a few Life Time group training coaches and participants about how their training community has helped them achieve much more than they would’ve otherwise — and how you can take steps to do the same.
1. You’re more consistent and committed.
Training with others improves consistency because it involves an increased commitment — and an added layer of accountability. Others will notice if you don’t show up for your workout, and some healthy peer pressure can help you fight the urge to skip or quit.
Cristal Perez, a member at Life Time in Alpharetta, Ga., emphasizes this point: “GTX classes have provided me support and held me reliable to come every day,” she says. “If I was working out on my own, it would’ve been harder for me to remain consistent.”
That consistency is a big factor in reaping results. For example, one study found that those with weight-loss goals who went it alone had a 76 percent completion rate, with 24 percent maintaining that weight up to 10 months after. On the other hand, those who used the “buddy system” had a 95 percent completion rate with 66 percent weight maintenance.
2. You push yourself in surprising ways.
The Köhler effect is a phenomenon that occurs when a person works harder as a member of a group than when working alone. Essentially, no one wants to be the “weakest” link in a group setting. When it comes to fitness, this translates to pushing yourself harder when those around you are doing the same.
Jill Schafer, a Life Time member in San Antonio, Texas, has been attending group classes since 2007, still going strong with them at 63 years old. “Working with a class keeps me accountable,” says Schafer. “When you’re working out on your own, you may be tempted to skip exercises or not push yourself.”
Bryce Morris, a Life Time group training coach in Houston, Texas, agrees: “It’s always nice to endure the struggle together as a group rather than alone. No one can push you harder than a team.”
3. You make lifelong friends.
There’s a bond that’s created when a group struggles, sweats, fights, and grinds their way through a tough workout. At the foundation of all of that is relationships. You will keep coming back because the community becomes your friends, and everyone’s success is influenced by one another’s.
The camaraderie is an important element. When training gets to be very demanding and you are tired, simply knowing that your training partners and teammates are experiencing the same thing can provide you with enough uplift to carry on. You encourage them, they encourage you.
4. You find your inner competitor.
Researchers at Kansas State University discovered that people who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout time and intensity by 200 percent.
Brandon Irwin, the main researcher in the study, stated: “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.”
Ammie Burns, a Life Time member in Gilbert, Ariz., says, “I enjoy having 10 to 20 like-minded people in my circle to meet for workouts, exchange nutrition ideas, and encourage each other to reach our similar goals. Having classmates who have progressed further than you provides you with motivation to lift heavier or push harder. This mentality is very difficult to achieve on your own.”
5. You’re part of a cool culture.
Having a positive attitude toward training is important for success. In the culture of a team, attitudes become behaviors. The coach sets the expectations, but the enforcement and encouragement comes from the group.
“We all work, move, sweat, cry, scream, and laugh together,” says Nick Sandoval, a Life Time group training coach in Gilbert, Ariz. “This bonds us and allows us to let go and push on a little harder because the crew is there in support. The group becomes the glue that holds the processes together.”
How can you get involved with a training group?
If you’ve got a group of buddies inspired to make fitness progress, you can always form your own group. However, if you’re in need of a team, feeling a little intimidated about starting, or know it’d be helpful to have the guidance of a coach, as a Life Time member, here are a few ways you can find the group that’s right for you:
- Take advantage of a complimentary week. Every Life Time member gets a week of group training classes for free. If you haven’t been working out consistently (about three times a week), I’d recommend GTX Conditioning If you’ve been following a program and are ready for a little challenge, I’d suggest any GTX format or Alpha Conditioning.
- Connect with a group training coach. The coach and the class have to be a good fit for you. If you’re not quite ready to hop into the group, connect with the coach first. They’re happy to set up time to talk so you can learn more.
- Work out on your own while you watch a class from a distance. Find cardio equipment or a mat next to an in-session class so you can listen and watch to see if it’s right for you. We don’t mind the audience!