From our previous blogs we’ve established that exercise is medicine and the best way to administer it is through strength training and HIIT. But how to stick with it? Let’s face it, we all have days that we’re dragging ourselves to the gym. That’s where group exercise steps in. In this post I’ll summarize why there is actual truth behind the phrase “strength in numbers”.
All the work we do at PLF is done is group setting. Group exercise is not a new concept but it has definitely gained traction in the last 10 years. Studies have shown that group exercise promotes significantly more weight loss, that exercising together across fitness levels has benefits, and it makes you work harder.
A small 2010 study showed that participants gravitate towards the exercise behaviors of those around them in a group exercise setting. This finding was supported by a 2016 study of over 9000 people published in the journal Obesity. The authors concluded that overweight people in the study tended to lose more weight if they spent time with their fit friends. What’s more is they found that the more time they spend together, the more weight they lost.
Aside from the weight loss benefits, studies show increased commitment to a fitness regime within a community compared to those who went at it alone. Exercising in a group enhances consistency, duration, motivation, and inspiration. When you cancel – its noticed, and the positive peer pressure helps prevent the urge to stay in bed. In 1999, Win et al., reported that those who participated in a weight loss program with no social support, 76% completed the it and 24% maintained their weight loss in full Month 4 to 10. For those who had 3 family/friend members to support them, 95% completed the treatment and 66% maintained their weight loss in full. That’s a HUGE difference in success rate!
There’s something called the Kohler Effect, which essentially is the idea that no one wants to be the weakest link in a group. When it comes to a group fitness setting this means you push yourself harder when exercising with those who are fitter than you (i.e. me, ha). A study by Feltz et al., demonstrated a 24% increase in plank time in participants who exercised with a fitter partner. Part of the reason we push ourselves harder in a group setting is the innate competitiveness in all of us. You want to keep up, to do more, to lift heavier. Seeing what others are capable of, seeing how far they’ve come, inspires us to push yourself harder. Other studies show that when you work out in a group you work out longer – in fact doubling work out time. A study from Kansas State University found that people who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout time and intensity by 200%!! In conclusion, working out in a group not only increase wight loss, but also performance and endurance.
Group exercise also has mental advantages over solo workouts. We all know that exercise releases endorphins – those feel-good hormones. But the group environment increases endorphin production, so you’re getting the benefits of both. A study published in the International Journal of Stress Management found that people who exercised on a stationary bicycle for 30 minutes with a friend said they felt calmer after the workout than those who cycled alone. And it’s also just more fun: Researchers from the University of Southern California found that people who worked out with friends (or a spouse or co-worker) said they enjoyed the exercise more than those who sweat it out alone. Add that to the list of reasons why working out with others may encourage you to make fitness a habit that sticks.
Perhaps the most important part of the group exercise environment is the camaraderie. There’s something special created when you’re grinding through a really hard work out together. That extra little boost from your gym buddies absolutely helps. Someone to say, “one more”, “go heavier”, or “go faster” … the high fives at the end; it all helps. Building those friendships increases accountability and often extend beyond the gym. Our gym people become family; our families become friends. It’s a cool thing to be a part of. So, in the New Year, commit to getting fit with us. Join our family and get in the best shape of your life.
Natalie M. Golaszewski, Andrea Z. LaCroix, Steven P. Hooker & John B. Bartholomew (2021) Group exercise membership is associated with forms of social support, exercise identity, and amount of physical activity, International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
McGrath JA, O’Malley M, Hendrix TJ. Group exercise mode and health-related quality of life among healthy adults. J Adv Nurs. 2011 Mar;67(3):491-500
Mitchell T, Barlow CE. Review of the role of exercise in improving quality of life in healthy individuals and in those with chronic diseases. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2011 Jul;10(4):211-6.
Engel FA, Rappelt L, Held S, Donath L. Can High-Intensity Functional Suspension Training over Eight Weeks Improve Resting Blood Pressure and Quality of Life in Young Adults? A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 12;16(24):506
Levy SS, Thralls KJ, Goble DJ, Krippes TB. Effects of a Community-Based Exercise Program on Older Adults’ Physical Function, Activities of Daily Living, and Exercise Self-Efficacy: Feeling Fit Club. Journal of Applied Gerontology. 2020;39(1):40-49.