Making the commitment to get back in shape is a major decision. Not only does it require a good chunk of time out of your life, but it also requires making a lot of decisions and paying attention to a lot of details – training programs, training styles, and dietary habits are all things that you need to sort out when you’re getting started.
When it comes to training in particular, there’s one major decision that new trainees are faced with from the onset – “should I train in a group setting, or by myself?”
Why Group Training Beats Training Alone
Most people have tried working out alone. A few succeed…but most fail.
It’s unfortunate, because most people could avoid this initial failure simply by trying something different. Because for the vast majority, group training beats training by yourself hands down.
Obviously this is a bit of an overgeneralization. There are certainly some people who do function better in an individual setting. These people tend to be very self-motivated, and often have some experience with fitness and working out early in their life.
But for the majority of the population, group training should at the very least be a consideration for the following reasons.
Advantage #1 – Accountability
Fitness is a longterm commitment.
No, you don’t have to become a full time gym rat and give your whole life to the iron, but you do need to make certain sacrifices. This means carving out a certain amount of time each week for the gym, being diligent with your diet, and making your health a priority.
Most people quit on their fitness goals. This is simply a fact. And not only do they quit, but they quit in the first few months.
Working out in a group setting will go a long way to help you beat the high failure rate. As human beings, we’re social, “tribal” (for lack of a better word) animals. There’s something about functioning in groups that creates a sense of being accountable to others.
Even if we’re technically working towards individual goals, the psychology behind group participation is powerful, and will really help keep you committed.
Advantage #2 – Camaraderie
If you haven’t worked out in a while (or ever), getting back into it is going to be tough. Even for those with experience, any training you take on that’s actually effective is going to push you.
There are going to be days when you don’t feel like going to the gym.
There are going to be days when you don’t feel like finishing your workout.
There are going to be days when you don’t feel like giving it 100%.
The beauty of group training is that you’re going into it with the knowledge that everyone else is feeling the same way.
This is not meant to intimidate you or scare you out of training, by the way. Most of your workouts aren’t going to be like this. When it comes to new trainees and those coming back from a long layoff, the majority of people find that, while the first few workouts are rough, after a few weeks they start to adjust (and within a month of so, most come to enjoy it).
Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is this – even people who have been working out for years have bad days. This is a completely normal part of the process, and something that almost everyone will go through at some point in their training career.
Having a solid group of people that you work out with regularly will not only keep you accountable to each other, but it will really build that solidarity and sense that you’re in it together.
Advantage #3 – Meeting Like Minded-People
If you’re over the age of thirty, you probably don’t need me to tell you that the older you get, the tougher it is meet new people – and really tough to meet people with shared interests and values.
Chances are if you’re thinking seriously about getting in shape, you probably have a number of qualities by default.
You probably take your health, wellness and longevity seriously.
You probably believe in the value of investing in yourself.
You’re probably someone who wants to make health and fitness a core component of your lifestyle.
The great thing about joining in on any kind of group fitness is that it provides a great place to meet other people who share these values and form quality relationships with them.
What Should You Look For In A Gym?
There are a few things you should check for when you’re looking to join any kind of group training.
The first is to find a place that’s welcoming. Obviously, the number one place to check is with the staff, since you want to be working a coach that not only makes you feel included, but understands what it’s like to either be a newbie or someone who’s coming back after a long break and needs to ease themselves into it.
But more importantly, you want to go somewhere where the other clients are welcoming as well. This says a lot about the culture of the gym, and the precedent that’s been set by the people working there.
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re training in an environment that’s not intimidating. Clearly if you haven’t trained in a while, you’re going to experience some degree of discomfort and intimidation. But it’s important that you’re working out with people who don’t actively make it worse than it needs to be.
Finally, you want to go somewhere that’s accommodating. One of the things we’ve strived to do with our program is make it as accessible as possible to people from all walks of life and starting points in the world of fitness. Whether it’s trainees with previous injuries, or complete newbies who don’t know the basics yet, we really pride ourself on a program that everyone can get value out of.