An in-depth look at going it alone or taking a friend
Exercise is one of the best habits to get into yet one of the hardest. We all have different motivational processes. Some of us prefer to go alone, headphones immersing us into a world of rhythm to match with motion; others prefer the company of friends to distract themselves, pass the time with each other, or to work alongside each other in companionable silence. Still more like to work as a group, powering through a class or workout with others – be they friends or strangers – to keep motivated. So which option will work best for you? A lot depends on your personality – what motivates you? What discourages you? To help you make an educated decision, the following list weighs a few pros and cons for Solo and Group Workouts. (Classes and Trainers will be tackled in a second blog.)
Sweet solitude. You can lose yourself in the motions, in the music, in the goal. You don’t have to pay attention to anyone but yourself – and the staff, if they try to get your attention. It’s just you, your music or favorite channel on the gym tv, and your workout. No one to compare yourself against, no one to draw you away. The solo workout is an ideal time to self, a great way to get away.
But you’re alone. Nothing but your thoughts to encourage you. No group goals, no instructor helping you out. No one to keep you going when you feel like giving in. You could get bored, just going through the motions. You might not get pick of what’s on the TV, or your mp3 might crash on you.
The greatest blessing of the solo workout is also its worst curse: you’re alone. If you are the type of person who can keep themselves motivated and wants some time away from the crowd, then this is for you; however, if you are the kind who loses motivation quickly or needs a more obvious goal, then you should go a different route.
Taking a Friend or Group Workout
If the only part about the solo workout that has you down is being alone, consider taking a friend. You can set your own goals on the machine, but you have that extra person to keep you motivated and moving. You can still lose yourself in the rhythm. Work at your own pace. Challenge yourself to reach goals. If you and your friend are the types for a peaceful rivalry, try to reach your goals before they do, or set smaller challenges on the machines (just remember to stay safe and use the equipment responsibly.) Group classes are offered at gyms like Nuffield or DW Fitness.
Unfortunately, even with a friend there you are still responsible for plotting your own workout. You have to know what equipment you want to use when and pay close attention to what your physical self is telling you. You have to know your limits, so that you don’t push yourself to hard. And the problem with bringing a friend is that some people don’t do well with comparisons. It could be your friend is more in shape than you and you’re envious; this could lead to you taking risks you wouldn’t consider otherwise.
The great thing about working out with a friend, or friends, is that you can set your own pace and your own workout. You have company to keep you motivated and help you set goals. However, you’re not alone. You have someone else to keep track of, and you may end up comparing yourself to them. If you get discouraged by the success of others, Group Workouts aren’t your thing.
It could be that Free Weights and Resistance Training aren’t your thing. Maybe you just don’t know where to start or what plan to follow; maybe you would prefer a dance session or aqua aerobics. If that’s the case, tune in for a later blog on classes versus personal trainers.