How do you feel about exercising alone? Do you typically have a “workout buddy” or train with a group? Where do you feel your results stack up when you compare doing your routine solo to making exercise a group activity?
Over the past few decades, group exercise has blown up as quickly as the diet fads.Group exercise has blown up as quickly as the diet fads. It doesn't have to be 'your thing' though. #exercisealoneClick To Tweet
There’s a class for just about everything from kick-boxing to Zumba to tai chi. Spin classes are packed with pumped up participants and yoga classes are full of people working to get their “calm” on. Don’t even get me started on CrossFit!
What about those of us who like being alone when we exercise? Is that a bad thing? Are the results of exercising alone better or worse than making it a social activity?
It turns out it’s just fine if you be anti-social in your quest for feeling the burn!
7 Awesome Benefits of Exercising Alone (And Don’t Feel Bad!)
- You burn just as many calories. While many people love the social environment of group workouts, some of us aren’t interested in that part. If your primary reason for exercise is to stay in shape and keep your body healthy, knocking out a solitary session burns the same number of calories as making it a team sport. You’re also more likely to try something new without an audience who might comment, suggest, or judge your efforts.
- Not everything requires a “team.” Anyone who’s worked out for a while knows what it’s like to have that one training partner who becomes the cheerleader. “You got this!” “One more set!” “Killin’ it!” Sometimes, you want to just use the elliptical and go home, you know? Spending 2-3 hours at the gym while you trade off equipment or do a class isn’t for everyone. I just want to get it done and get back to work. “No, Lisa, I don’t want to grab a smoothie or a salad afterward…I want a shower and quiet. I paid my dues!”
- You’re able to fully unplug. All of us are connected through social media and a thousand apps on our phones. To me, working out with a partner means more conversation (usually about something on social media or a person we both know). Exercising alone allows you to really cut off everything but the task of the moment. Five miles on the bike, one circuit of the weight machines, stretching, and…we’re done.
- Success or failure is totally in your court. We’ve talked about the cheerleader. Now let’s discuss that one friend you have to be the cheerleader for. You have to remind them about the gym, encourage them to get there, talk them through every aspect of the routine, and tell them how awesome they’re doing. Afterward, they might complain about being sweaty or sore, how they’re so tired, or how they have so much left to do. Nothing ruins your workout euphoria like a Negative Nelly. Exercising alone puts the ball in your court. Whether you get there (or you don’t) and crush it is up to you. No one to blame but no one to hold you back either.
- Your routine is tailor-made to what you want or need. Maybe you don’t need another leg day because you have sculpted calves like rocks and thighs like a gymnast genetically…but you really need to work out the flabby upper arms you get from every female in your family. Tricia over here is striving for the ever-elusive “thigh gap” and that means you work those areas whether you need to or not. Every person, every human body, is unique. What you need is likely very different from everyone else in your life and how you get there should be completely within your control. Let Tricia butterfly until her legs fall off.
- There’s no danger of negative comparisons. There are few feelings as intimidating as walking into a new gym or a new class for the first time. You’re the rookie. Maybe it’s your first time back after having a baby and you’re looking to get some tone back. Post-baby body is a personal (and often depressing) journey. You bring along your friend who’s youngest child is school age and she bounced back after labor like she was never pregnant. She looks amazing and has tons of advice that “will work wonders, like, overnight” (but naturally doesn’t). That won’t make you feel like crap, surely. [Insert sarcastic eye roll here.] Whatever your reasons for working out, you don’t have to include other people in it (and don’t be afraid to say no).
- Quiet allows your inner thoughts to bubble up. Another issue with being around people and plugged in through technology all the time is that it drowns out your ability to listen to your deepest thoughts. As a naturally creative person, there was a time I could barely concentrate on what ingredients I already added to a recipe because my significant other wouldn’t shut up for thirty seconds straight. During exercise, your body is releasing all kinds of amazing “feel good” chemicals and they’re amazing for jogging your thoughts, clarifying problematic situations, or helping you focus on something you’ve been putting off. It’s a great time to think big thoughts (without someone derailing your train every thirty seconds).
Exercising alone means connecting to yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Drilling down on what you want, letting your mind drift, and seeing things you might not have seen with the distractions of a workout partner.Exercising alone means connecting to yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Don't feel ashamed of it!Click To Tweet
You get the same (if not better) results long-term and the only person you’re competing with is you. You set the pace, the goals. You are fully accountable for your progress (and no, you don’t have to tell people if you don’t want to).
Particularly if you’re a loner by nature (like me), don’t force yourself to group exercise. You’re setting yourself up for failure because over time, you’ll make a hundred excuses to avoid it.
If being part of a team hasn’t worked, try going it alone. You might be surprised at the results!
Do you work out alone, with a friend, or in a group? Tell us what works best for you in the comments below!