Group exercise is not only beneficial to our physical health and wellbeing. It works in a wonderful way of keeping us motivated, as the group wants to keep training together. The support that you get from the group allows you to feel warm and safe in that environment. When first beginning in a group exercise environment, it can be a little bit daunting to let’s say, break into the group or find your place and connect with others. When you have made connections with others in the group, you may feel you have found a place to belong.
Through the years I have delivered group exercise classes, I found some of these ways for class participants to connect with others in the group. They help you make the group environment a place that you feel warm and safe.
Use first name
Starting off the list, is knowing each other’s names. When you remember another person’s name, it will start the connection with them because you can acknowledge them easily. We all get a little hit of dopamine when someone says our name. They recognize who you are, and it sends the signal that this person can be ‘trusted’ in our mind. It fills us up with a sense of belonging. As you learn, & use, their name, they will in turn learn yours to reciprocate.
Cheer on any achievements and milestones. Celebrating the wins of your fellow exercise buddies, will boost their confidence and connect them closer with you. Just as using a classmates name, as you show excitement & joy for them, they will feel safe & happy in the person who is celebrating.
Conversations before, after, and sometimes during are all important to bond with fellow class participants. By sharing a little conversation with them, it will bring you closer together. Ask about them, find out what they are interested in. As they share about their lives, the conversation will open where you let them know about yours. You may find common interests. Build the conversations in & around the group classes.
Ask for help
The reason why you have come to class is probably something to do with ‘I want to be healthy and fitter’. Just like you, the other class participants also want to become healthier and fitter. At certain times, you are going to find exercises or workouts that you are unsure of. This is a time to look around and ask someone “Hey, can I have some help?”. By asking for help, they are probably going to be more inclined to get to know you and share their experience. At some point in time they have been in the same situation as yourself and understand how you feel.
Give help to others
Now, flip the script. If you see someone who’s struggling and who is a little bit newer with the workout or the routine. Head over to them offer some help. Something like, “Hey, I noticed that this exercise, it isn’t coming as smoothly for you yet. Have you tried this way?”. By giving that help, they’re going to feel your empathy and appreciate you reaching out to them.
Over time, you are going to find that others in the class who connect with you well. You are probably going to buddy up with them. This is a great way to train together and to connect with them. You might have a similar fitness level or you might have interests that are alike. Finding a buddy that you enjoy working out with will also keep your motivation up to exercise and form a friendship outside of classes.
Grab a coffee
You come for exercise, but you walk away with friendships. Yes, exercise is going to be the main reason to attend. But taking the time to go and grab a bite to eat or get a coffee, fosters the friendship forming inside the group exercise class. The shared experiences you and fellow classmates go through, creates a comfortable talking point with each other. Use these moments in catch ups along with any other interests you discover about each other.
Attending a workshop together
Much like the shared “suffering” that you experience in your group workouts. Going to a workshop or a lecture to learn about movement, health and nutrition acts in the same way. Having a shared “learning” experience, instead of the “suffering” one, builds on your friendship. You may find that you be able to bounce off each other when you explore more about topics you look into. Having something that you share mutual interests in helps bond with others in the class.
So, next time you are in a group workout, try one of these ideas. Find out if it helps you connect with someone else in the group. Hopefully you find a long lasting friendship from it.