One can feel like the loneliest number, especially when it comes to exercising. It’s not just easier to work out with other people around you, it’s also a lot more fun. And physical activity should be enjoyable — something that enriches your life — or else, why do it, right?
It’s that combination of intense, challenging exercise with an engaged, welcoming community that makes CrossFit such a draw. You should make the most of the opportunity to spend time with a group of like-minded people, and perhaps push yourself even further out of your comfort zone to forge some real social connections at the gym. Introduce yourself, ask for advice or assistance, make a lunch date with a WOD partner. While friendships enhance our lives in so many ways, there are real health benefits to making a workout buddy.
Here are a couple to keep in mind:
Friends keep you accountable
We all go through periods where our enthusiasm for exercise wanes, or for whatever reason— work, life, illness—we find it harder to make it in to the gym. One way to ensure that these dips in commitment and bouts of absence don’t stretch into weeks and months of inactivity is to have a gym buddy who will keep you accountable. Time and again, research shows that people who work out with a pal, or even a similarly committed acquaintance, exercise more consistently than those that don’t. Motivation is a critical factor in sustained exercise. No one wants to bail on a workout with a friend just to sit at home on the couch (or at least not all the time, anyway).
You work harder in a group
A little friendly competition never hurts. In fact, working out with other people can only push you further and increase the intensity of your effort. This may be due, in part, to the “Kohler effect,” a phenomenon in which individuals perform better simply because they’re within a group setting. More intense workouts give you better results, so, next time a partner workout is programmed grab a friend, and make sure they don’t beat you!
You’ll have fun, talk, laugh!
There is no recess when you’re an adult, and moments in which you can be active and social are few and far between. CrossFit allows you to be both social and active at the same time, and doing both has a cascade of positive effects that extend beyond the way your body looks to include your mood and how you feel about yourself overall. Having a place that can tick off more than one box on your To Do list —and that increases your overall sense of contentment — is a rare thing, so take full advantage.
The next time you come into the gym, don’t be shy. It could the best thing for your workouts!
Broder McNeill is a coach and co-owner at Alchemy CrossFit.