By: Bryan Ball
As a fitness enthusiast, personal trainer, and fitness instructor I have had the pleasure to experience a morning of solitude in the weight room share in the new record for a friend and have helped shaped the course of many people’s fitness journeys. When you have all those experiences you start to see the benefits and complications of working alone or with others. While everyone will have his or her favorite I highly encourage all to try each method at least once to better understand the joys of each.
- Working Solo (aka “The Hermit”)
We’ve all plugged in the headphones, put our head down, and just powered through a workout. For many people, this is the only way they work out, whether they are the dedicated gym goer or perhaps just a parent working out in the garage while the kids asleep. This can be very therapeutic and meditative, whether it is at the being or end of the day that is your time to decompress and focus on a productive activity that will chemical improve your mood as endorphins are released into your system. For others, it is more of a ritual than meditation, much like eating a meal the day just seems incomplete with that always regular time at the gym.
Going solo allows you to set your own personal time frame and can adjust on your whims without having to worry about a schedule conflict or a buddy not being able to make it to the session. Along with setting your own time, it will also save you time in the gym because you will be able to set the pace as well as not having to worry about re-racking two people’s weights as well as having twice as many sets to go through.
While time management is most convenient for going solo there are some disadvantages as far as how you can perform in the gym. By not having a buddy you also lack a spotter. So if you are doing a heavy bench and get stuck, you better hope you aren’t in the gym alone or you may be stuck. However, with a trustworthy spotter, your safety increases dramatically. Fitness buddies can also be a boost psychologically, if you both share a high level of commitment and punctuality then you can hold each other accountable on days where you “just don’t wanna go.”
Well guess what buddy, it’s leg day and I’m not doing that alone.
- Partners (aka “The Wonder Twins”)
Having a partner in crime as before mentioned to advantageous for more than just safety and motivation. They also double as alarm clocks, if you have a sibling, room or housemate, or spouse who wants to encourage you or join in your journey, let them! Having someone in the same household be able to keep you (and vice versa) accountable is life-changing.
My first fitness guru was my father who got up every morning at 4:30 am to work out before his hour commute to work as a teacher. He first taught to lift and in high school, I was with him almost every morning (the ones I wasn’t I felt quite guilty though my father never shamed me about it). My second fitness buddy was one of my college housemates as well as a fellow boxing coach at our local club we ran together.
However, those were both dedicated people who wanted change as much as I did, and that is the most important thing and biggest potential danger with a fitness partner and that is having someone who doesn’t want to be there or will potentially prevent you from being there. Some people may start strong but fade quick, now this isn’t saying ditch your friends and discourage them as well, but to rather try to encourage them and rekindle their motivation. If that is unsuccessful just express to them that you are there to make a healthy change and if they really don’t want to be there then they don’t have too. Again, this is only if they are taking away from your motivation or preventing you from going. Everyone gets low on motivation and needs some encouragement or gets sick so always give the benefit of the doubt
- Fitness Class (aka “The Fitness Cults”)
If you are looking for a combination of well scheduled time slots and motivational shouts from an overly energetic instructor? Then you may want to think about a fitness class, varying from yoga to kickboxing many gyms offer a multitude of classes. Classes are very time friendly if you can find one that works with your schedule because they are constant unless some unknown event happens. Classes are also good for people who are just starting off in exercise because you will be provided with a trained instructor that will help you step by step. No worrying about what you have to do on what day, just show up, listen up, and kick butt.
Now depending on the gym and class offerings will also depend on the intensity level of the class. For example, we at Xcel offer what we dub the “Fit Life Class” that meets on set times throughout the week and anyone of any level can join. Whereas our Wolverine Fight Program meets once a week for an hour and is a much more advanced class. Try multiple classes and settle on the one that best fits your fitness level.
Classes are also perfect for all the extroverts reading this blog because when in a fitness class you are going to have to interact and potentially work with the others in the room. As a boxing and martial arts coach, each class required you to have a partner to work with for the entire two hours as well as the cardio circuit (which could be up to four people a section).
No matter which method of exercising you approach be sure it is the right one for you and keeps you in line with your goals. Even if that means supplementing group events for things such as races or competitions. Going through the daily grind alone only to reach a larger goal with others at a charity 5k or simply pushing yourself around fellow competitors who share similar mindsets. At the end of the day, the biggest battle is motivation and finding the comforts of fitness instead of looking towards its discomforts.