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Fitness – Better With Friends?

Is getting fit better done with other people around you?

Is it easier? Is it more fun?

I think it just might be.

I say this as a (formerly) lifelong solo trainer. I have always exercised alone. Mainly because I never had any friends who were interested in working out.

It's ok. No need for violins. 🙂

I would head off to the gym, alone, stick my headphones in and crack on with the programme I got from a book (Anita Bean's The Complete Guide To Strength Training, if you're interested!).

There were other people in the gym, of course, but that just made me feel more isolated, if anything. From time to time, I would do classes - Body Pump, Step, etc - and feel like an outsider. I'm not good at making friends in situations like that. I just skulked in, did my thing, and skulked out again.

Ultimately, as my business grew, so did my own personal gym where I work with my clients and I left the big box gym to train there instead. No other people, just me and my music and my workout.

But I always craved that human interaction within my fitness routine. I sometimes struggled to get out there and get moving in my gym, especially in the dark, cold winter months.

If you're not wired in that solo way, it can be hard to find those deep reserves of energy and effort without the support, encouragement and company of other people.

It's natural to want to share the experience with others. We like to share our pain, right? 🙂

Maybe some (all?) of us crave that sense of belonging that can come from being part of a community of our own choosing.

Maybe for some, it's to do with not feeling alone as they traverse something that can be really tough. Getting fitness to live in your life as a permanent habit isn't easy for most. Having even just one other person to work alongside is a blessing for this.

Isn't that why we seek out mentors, buddies, inspirations, teachers, coaches and groups - for all sorts of things?

I know there's very little that's truly excellent in my life that I've achieved alone. Everything I have that's wonderful has happened with/because of other people.

But it took me ages to apply this to my fitness. Which seems rather daft given that I'm a personal trainer. My entire business is built on the foundation that when people seek the help of any other human, whether that's because of a need for expertise, coaching, encouragement, confidence or anything else, they get further, faster.

I am privileged to be part of their community for many people. I get to be the one that is reached out to, who can support them over the hump.

Yet it was two years ago that I started branching out into training with a coach myself. And you might think that of course I would say this, but it changed everything for the better.

I don't have to think about my training anymore. I just turn up and my coach, Mike, tells me what I'll be working on that day. Because he's there, and even more so because I'm working alongside others, I work harder than I would alone. Because there are perimeters around the workout, like a certain amount of reps to get through in a specific time period, I push to see what I can do.

And because I found the right coach and the right community to be part of, I enjoy being there and it's no effort to make the time to go.

Fitness is more complicated than just getting some movements written on a sheet of paper that you then go off and do.

It's all tied up with those things about us that are deeply human - self-confidence, community, self-compassion, connection -  those things that help us try to be better even when it's hard.

Other humans can make you look forward to exercise where that exercise alone may well have you running away.

Other people can help you find a lightness and humour in a potentially daunting workout.

Finding a community - even a community of 2, like you and a running buddy, you and a PT, you and a classmate, you and your partner - can give you that lift to get it done.

Accountability is part of why this works, but it's certainly not the most powerful reason. You can still bail on an appointment with someone if the resistance is strong enough.

But add your motivation to improve your fitness with your genuine like and regard for your people, whoever they may be, and you've got a strong recipe for success.

So, I would say yes, fitness is better done with other people around you. You may need to search a little to make sure they're the right people for you but, once you've found them, that's a big piece of your health jigsaw locked in place.

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