Workouts: Pair, Group, Or Solo Style?

I met up with friends for breakfast yesterday, following a 5K race at a local animal sanctuary. It was good to see them, as the pandemic, work, and (their) kids’ lives had disrupted regular adult contact.

The race went well, despite the heat; it started after 9 a.m. The restaurant was crowded but our server was an absolute gem. I think she could sense my need for hydration; it might have been the fact that I smelled like sweat and dirt and looked like crap. The food was exactly what I needed. Eggs and potatoes and corned beef. My friends had the signature brunch Bloody Mary beverage, which came with bacon and assorted vegetables piled on top. Interesting, but I cannot handle alcohol that early, even in disguise.

The conversation veered from this and that: work, home repairs, an upcoming wedding, kids’ activities, the high price of pretty much everything, and it finally landed on exercise. They marveled at my ability to maintain a schedule to get up and get it done every day. Two of the gals, pals since childhood, had been trying to get together “for ages” and come up with a plan and time they could agree on to work out. It has never happened. Neither of them is lazy or unmotivated. Both have kids, jobs, and busy lives. I did wonder if waiting until the right time for both of them to be ready was the problem.

Good health does not wait until you can find the right workout partner. Poor lifestyle habits don’t change just because social media presents you with your ideal exercise group. Some people find exercise with one or more others is a good and even necessary motivator. If they fail to show up for that yoga class, bike ride, mall walk, or park run, someone is going to call or text them. Knowing people are waiting for you is a combination of a guilt trip and a painful alarm blast out of bed.

But lacking a group or the ability to pair up isn’t an excuse to sit and fail to move forward. I am a mixed-bag exerciser: I kickbox alone with a trainer, run and bike alone, and swim with a group. I like the mental silence of solo time, just me and the road or trail and some sixties tunes from my phone. Group swimming is fine: I learn from other people and a coach and find out the latest on upcoming swim meets. Kickboxing with a trainer is a necessity because he holds the bag (and sometimes he is the bag, though I promise I won’t hurt him).

Everyone has a style that works. The social among you like the support and camaraderie of the group, while the paired-up find it helps to motivate them knowing there is someone out there to harass them if they miss a session. The soloists don’t want the noise and the notion of waiting for others to catch up (or the pain of getting passed) is more than they can deal with.

Just don’t wait for the “right” or “perfect” scenario to come along to get started working out. Work with what you have now.

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