The Power of a Community

Tour de Coffee with SweatNET at First Ward Park

The Köhler effect states that less-capable individuals will perform better when doing a task in a group setting, rather than on their own

Group activity may not be a new concept but it has certainly seen massive international up-trends over the last twenty years with rapidly rising numbers in spin cycling, aerobic and dance-based classes and the emergence of CrossFit and its tribe mentality. says Rob McGillivray, personal trainer and founder of “I believe it to be a key indicator that working out in a motivational pack or using it as a tool to enhance internal or external competitive performance is fast becoming the preferred form of exercise.”

Not only is group fitness having a moment, but it’s having a significant impact on our health.

This makes a pretty strong argument for making your workouts communal. But it’s just one of many reasons why it may be easier (and more enjoyable) to get fit in a “pack.”

People who exercised with someone they thought was better than them increased their workout time and intensity by 200 percent.

EXERCISING WITH A GROUP CAN TAKE YOUR WORKOUTS UP A NOTCH

 

  1. INCREASE YOUR COMMITMENT TO A FITNESS ROUTINE: “Working out with a crowd carries a plethora of intertwined benefits that include enhancing consistency, duration, motivation, conversation and inspiration,” says Dian Griesel, Ph.D., “Workouts with others improve consistency because they involve a commitment. ‘No shows’ and cancellations get noticed by others and positive peer pressure can help curtail the urges to skip a workout … or quit.”

A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology set out to examine how true the effect really is — having participants perform a series of planks both alone and with a partner (whose performance was manipulated to always be better than the participants). What they found was that working with a partner produced a motivation gain that allowed the participants to hold their planks for a longer period of time. In fact, those who exercised with a more-capable partner increased their plank time by 24 percent.

Other studies confirm that working out with a partner significantly increases time spent exercising. A study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine showed that working with a partner, especially in a team format, improved performance, doubling the workout time of those who exercised alone.

Studies show that opting for a group setting for a few workouts each week may help you push yourself past the threshold you tend to hit when working out solo — whether that be in time or intensity.

2. GET A COMPETITIVE EDGE: One reason why you may push yourself harder when others are grunting alongside of you is the innate competitive streak in all of us. “Group settings can lead to a positive competitiveness. For instance, wanting to keep up with those around you can make you push yourself harder than you would on your own,” says John Ford, certified exercise physiologist, who runs in New York City. “Seeing what others are capable of doing can inspire you to do more. I’ve personally had this experience: Watching others made me realize I had put some mental barriers up to pushing harder or trying different exercises/routines.”

3. CAPITALIZE ON ENDORPHINS: “Group workouts can have a couple of mental advantages over solo workouts. While it’s true that working out releases endorphins (think of all of that talk of a runner’s highs), a group setting can lead to the release of endorphins outside of just physical exertion,” says Ford. “One way is through smiling. Smiling has been shown to increase endorphin levels in studies. So when you’re in a great class or with a great bunch of people working out, that kind of conviviality can really make you feel great outside of just your runner’s high. An added benefit of this mood boost is that when you’re pushing yourself hard and struggling through more difficult parts of your workout you’ll feel better and more energized to complete the exercises.
  1. DIVERSIFY YOUR WORKOUTS: Another benefit of having a plus one at the gym? “Having spotters to make sure that you’re performing an exercise correctly and can do said exercises to failure in a safe manner,” says Ford. In some instances, having a partner can even help you do exercises that you couldn’t do on your own. Think partner assisted pull-ups.

There are only so many exercises you a perform alone — throw other person into the mix and you’re able to really get creative. “There are so many fun fitness moves that require having a partner or multiple partners,” adds Ford. “Just trying doing medicine ball toss sit-ups by yourself, it can make you feel really lonely in a hurry. Having multiple people around can really open up a creative catalog of exercises: from partner resisted moves (hey, stop sitting on my back during push-ups!) to relays the options are plentiful and fun.”

  1. FIND SUPPORT — AND ACCOUNTABILITY — IN BEING PART OF A TEAM: It’s an amazing feeling to see people do things they never thought they could until it took the person next to them to encourage them to complete that set, rep, mile or round. There’s a bond that is created when a group struggles, sweats, fights, and grinds their way through a tough workout. I focus on building relationships in class because if that happens, I know participants will come back tomorrow.”

“When we work out with other people we can gain a sense of camaraderie, because everyone is there for the same purpose,” agrees Davina Wong, Master Trainer “The people you see each week in a group class eventually become your family and want to see you back each week creating accountability.”

There’s a bond that is created when a group struggles, sweats, fights and grinds their way through a tough workout.

 

 

  1. GET EXTERNAL MOTIVATION WHEN YOU’RE DRAGGING: Being a part of this type of community can provide a huge boost of motivation beyond the one that comes with the physical benefits of a workout, which can be helpful for those finding it hard to stay committed.

“Motivation improves because group workouts are often filled with encouragement; ‘You can do it!’ cheers and other accolades from others keep the energy and motivation high. Inspiration benefits because in a group there is always the one who ‘seems to do it best’ and becomes the ‘reach’ for the group.

 

 

 

 

7. SweatNET This leads me to mention SweatNet.  It’s all about the Kohler Effect.  It’s about a community with like minded, good spirited, diverse people who are committed to health and fitness. SweatNet was formed to make it easy and affordable to experience MANY venues of fitness and health throughout the Charlotte area.  A ten dollar a month no commitment pass allows anyone to explore studios, activities and food at discount rates.  Weekly community events for members are free for SweatNet members.