Never underestimate the value of having a WOD squad. A supportive, group-training environment makes exercise fun. It may also push you to work out harder and more often.
Exercising can feel like a chore when you’re doing it on your own, and without the encouraging feedback of a coach or group. As many of Alchemy’s loyal members can attest, exercise enjoyment radically increases when you train within a group. That’s because when you’re struggling to achieve the same goal a wickedly hard WOD can feel like a community challenge — a sweaty form of teamwork.
But there are other benefits to working out in a community atmosphere.
Here are a few:
It keeps you accountable. If you have a standing workout date with your pal it’s significantly more likely that both of you are going to get your butts in gear and show up to the gym. A little friendly competition is good, too. Trying to best the score or time of a friend keeps you on your toes.
You work that much harder. The new mom who is pacing you in the 400m, or the grey-haired guy who bangs out pull-ups like a pro—the people around you will not only inspire you to work just that much harder, but their example will challenge your sense of what’s possible for you at any age or stage of life.
You make friends. Partner WODs, team challenges, one-on-one attention and instruction from coaches and other members—at Alchemy, you’re not just working out you’re also making social connections, and in some cases, friends. The social aspect of working out with other people can’t be undervalued. It feels good to walk into a room of smiling faces and to hear the buzz of conversation and laughter amid the clanging of barbells. By contrast, many conventional gyms can feel like lonely isolated islands of overloud headphones and avoiding gazes.
It’s a rush. One study recently suggested that working out in a group may even elevate your pain threshold. Researchers at Oxford University found that rowers that trained in a controlled group-setting had a pain threshold nearly double that of those that didn’t. The researchers hypothesize that this advantage was the result of an increase in endorphins. It seems that human beings are hardwired to enjoy teamwork and get a little chemical boost when working together towards a common goal. That’s not the only benefit of an endorphin rush, though. Endorphins also improve state of mind, boosting self-esteem, reducing stress, improving sleep and warding off anxiety and depression.
So come on in, bring a friend or make some, work your ass off, and bring on the endorphins!
Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner of Alchemy CrossFit.