As a coach, I see this daily. The bigger classes always seem a little more motivated and a little more competitive than the one individual who comes for a private session. There’s a reason for this. The benefits to working out in a group setting are well documented and researched. Two things get elevated when in a group setting: your performance (via the Kohler effect) and endorphin levels. Increasing both of these will help you reap the benefits of your workouts so let’s talk about them!
The Kohler effect
In the 1920s, Otto Kohler suggested that a person works harder in a group rather than alone. Kohler studied the German rowing teams and examined how their motivation would change when having to do a task alone compared to in a group. The group setting always out performed the individual setting and now there’s scientific proof of it.
A study out of Kansas State University says we work harder when working out with a partner we perceive — rightly or wrongly, it doesn’t matter — to be just a bit better than we are. The study builds on what’s known as the Kohler motivation gain effect — the idea that less-capable individuals perform better in a group setting — and found hitting the gym with someone thought to be better than ourselves boosts endurance and intensity by as much as 200 percent. Full Study.
Whether you like it or not, we compare ourselves with others to some degree. In a workout, this has shown to improve performance by almost 200% which speeds up results. Optimizing your atmosphere by including yourself in a group setting will ultimately help you reach your goals quicker.
Notice how working out helps relieve some of that stress or anxious feeling you had lingering all day? Yep, endorphins. You’ve all heard about how physical exertion releases endorphins in the body that give you an almost euphoric sensation after the workout. This release of endorphins is actually heightened when in a group setting as well. Researchers from Oxford concluded that endorphin release was greater in group training than individual training when the power and physical exertion remained constant. We all enjoy the feeling, so why not elevate it?
As you can see, working out in a group is great for your motivation and social being. We love our group classes at CrossFit 1Pulse for this very reason. Like-minded individuals working together and pushing each other towards their goals. Can’t beat that, it’s science.