Don't Be a Loner!
As of today, summer is officially here. No more weather excuses! It is time to get outside and get active. This month, our blog is dedicated to helping you get going on your summer exercise and activity goals.
We caught up with our friend, Angie Kelley, to give us some helpful tips for staying motivated and active. Angie is a personal trainer and class instructor at The Club on Rouse in Bozeman, MT. She helps individuals and groups stay motivated all year long. Angie also did her Master’s of Science research in Exercise Adherence, which is the behavioral aspects that determine the strength of an individual’s commitment to performing physical activity.
Here is what Angie had to say:
The best piece of advice I can give you about starting or sticking to an exercise program or activity is this: Join a group! Don’t be a loner!
Being dedicated and sticking to an exercise program is hard. There are so many things
that can happen in life or even during one day that will get in the way of your training or exercise. Even starting a program can be very intimidating and difficult. In the field of Exercise Adherence, there are many factors or determinants of whether someone will begin and continue with an exercise program. A few of the main determinants are: self-efficacy – your belief that you are capable of performing the task; social support – the support of people around you; and the participant’s readiness for change (Koeneman et al. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2011). I believe joining a group covers all of these bases. Groups increase your self-efficacy (if she can do it, I can do it), give you plenty of social support, and get you ready for change (the minute you sign up, you are committing). Beyond the research-supported benefits, I just know from years of experience that joining a group will keep you accountable, keep you motivated, and help you keep having fun.
Exercising with a group keeps you accountable. The minute you sign up for a class or join a running group, you’ve made a commitment to people who you don’t want to let down. If you pay for the class or group, you have an even larger motivator to get you there. Most class programs, from Spinning to Crossfit, ask you to sign up in order to hold your spot. Therefore, signing up for the class is the biggest step you need to take and your conscience usually won’t allow you to cancel. Once you join a running group in your area, whether you pay for a coach or just join a group of friends, you’ve made a commitment. This takes the work and planning out of your hands, which is a relief to most of us. If you can just get yourself to show up at the designated meeting place, you’ve done the hardest part and the rest will take care of itself.
Exercising with a group will keep you highly motivated. This is huge! Like I said above, if you can get yourself to just show up for class or running group, you’ve done the hard work already. Once you are there, the coach or instructor will tell you what to do. They will motivate you beyond what you would have ever done by yourself. How many times have you told yourself that you are just going to show up for class today and take it easy. By the time class is over, you have worked twice as hard as you thought you would and it didn’t feel that bad.
I am currently part of a group of fabulous ladies who are in Shayla’s (Sauce Headwear founder and owner) running group. We are training for a long mountain race and spending a lot of time on beautiful mountain trails in the area. We were about an hour into a recent trail run (up, up, up) and one of the girls commented, “I would be so done and turning around right now if I didn’t have Shayla in front of me pulling me up and all you other girls behind me pushing me.” Keep in mind, none of us were actually touching each other or pushing or pulling anyone. The energy of the group seemed to provide each individual person with an extra level of endurance that we would never have had on our own. This happens every time we get together. We all show up feeling tired, and unsure of how we will perform. By the end of the workout, whether it is short intervals or long mountain climbs, we are almost always surprised by our results. The group (or maybe it is Shayla) gives us superpowers we never knew we had.
Exercising in a group is so much fun! Alright, I admit there are some of you out there who are not “group people”. You already have as much self-efficacy as Usain Bolt and you think a group of people will just get in the way of your training schedule. That’s fine and
you can stop reading this blog now. Even though you could benefit from a trainer or a coach, there is no need for you to join a group. Anyone else, who doesn’t have Usain Bolt type self-efficacy and who might be just a little too shy, please give it a try. Group exercise is the perfect formula for making new friends and solidifying current friendships. You are suffering together. You are achieving great things together. You laugh together as you look silly trying Zumba moves. You are discovering new trails together that you may never have discovered on your own. You have all kinds of crazy discussions in your group and help each other solve all kinds of problems. In a group, you can usually find someone who is about your speed or ability and tell yourself, “If I can just keep up with them, I know I’ll make it.”
Are you ready to sign up? Positive social support of a group can help you start and stick with your exercise or running program. Find a group or sign up for classes in your area. You will show up at more workouts, work harder than you ever could on your own, and you will make new friendships that may stick with you for life. I’ve been teaching classes and training small groups for almost 20 years. I have a group of Friday FitFix ladies who have been exercising with me for up to 10 years. We celebrate each other’s birthdays, find any excuse to go out, and support each other through all life’s challenges. Shayla’s running group has become such an important and fun part of MY life that I schedule all family weekend events so that I am able to be back in town for our Sunday, 3:00 pm meeting time. Last weekend I celebrated my birthday and wouldn’t dream of missing our 2 1⁄2 – hour run on Chestnut Mountain with my running friends. The birthday cake and presents could wait!