From March to October 2020, revenue from home-fitness equipment totalled over twice the amount earned during that period the prior year. Outdoor activity equipment sales shot up, while gym subscriptions crashed hard. Needless to say, the pandemic, and subsequent lockdown, had a major impact on the widely embraced "social" fitness life of crowded indoor classes, busy gyms and bustling sports arenas.
For many, the "social distancing" mindset is hard to shake.
It's become almost second nature to slip on a mask everywhere we go or vacate the room, pronto, in the wake of a sneeze.
But at some point, we all have to remember that human beings are social creatures. Ignoring our inherent nature prevents us from all the wonderful benefits that being around our friends, colleagues and family offers - notably, when it comes to physical fitness.
It's been a minute since working out was thought of as a social opportunity. We get it.
So we're here to get you started with some solid ways you can ease your way back into the group workout scene.
1. Schedule a gym "date"
Just because gyms are open again doesn't mean there's less anxiety about going back to an indoor location with lots of people working out together. Lingering Covid concerns haunt us all. So why not bring a friend for emotional support? Chances are, they're feeling the same way you are.
Schedule a recurring time that's convenient for you both, or mix it up week to week, for novelty. When you've got a friend by your side, stepping back into the social world of working out seems a whole lot less daunting.
5th Street Gym, Miami, FL
2. Join a club or adult league
Whether you're a biker, swimmer, runner, boxer, tennis player... you likely won't have a hard time finding a local group or league made up of a diverse group of people who all have something in common from the get-go. Check out your community center or gym for announcements about upcoming opportunities, or find the group that fits your niche on social media.
3. Gather to train for a charity event
Whether it's a road race for a local dog shelter, the March of Dimes, or the MS 150, there are more active events and races for amazing causes than we could even begin to list. Find one you're passionate about and bring it up in the break room at work. Your colleagues may also be looking for an opportunity to be more active - socially and physically. Why not do both while getting to know people and giving back at the same time?
In case you're still on the fence about the idea of breaking your solo fitness routine, remember that the benefits of getting physical with friends have a positive impact on your mind, body and soul.
Here are just a few of them:
1. Train harder
Most people are well aware of how the accountability factor involved with working out with a partner or group makes them more likely to stick with a fitness routine. But research also shows that people tend to put more effort into the activity as well. The competitive vibes of pushing yourself in the presence of a partner(s) may actually help you reach your goals faster than if you stick with a solo routine.
5th Street Gym, Miami, FL
2. Relieve stress
Many people choose to work out after work, as a way to blow off steam after a stressful day in the office. But making it a social opportunity adds another layer - having a friend to talk to. Relating to others' experiences or simply venting frustrations to someone who's listening helps us feel less alone and can have a positive impact on our mental health.
3. Gain social confidence
No one is immune from some level of anxiety - especially about social engagements in a post-covid world. Taking it slow and starting with social workouts involving a small number of people, in an outdoor environment, will help build confidence for when social skills can have a make-or-break impact, such as in the workplace...or even on a first date!
Just because you're rusty on running with a partner or hesitant to hop on a gym's stationary bike doesn't mean that comfortably socializing in the form of a workout is out of reach. Take it slow. Start outdoors. Bring along an old friend.
Pretty soon, you'll remember how much better sweating and straining and striding is when you've got your favorite people to share it with.