The Power of the Group - with Coach Samantha

The other night (well evening really) I picked my daughter up from school after soccer practice and when we stepped outside, she looked at me and said, “mom, it’s dark? What happened?” She just turned five and this is the first time that she has become aware of the time change and how quickly is seems to get dark these days. What she is not aware of is that for the next few weeks it is only going to get worse. These shorter days coupled with cooler weather make sitting under a blanket and reading seem that much more desirable. I feel a desire to be in my jammies even earlier than usual, and if you know me, you know that is really dang early - like almost why even take them off and get dressed anyway kind of early. It can be really hard to get motivated to get work in when you are cold and it is dark out.


I have one simple suggestion - find a group and make those workouts happen.


At Evolve one of the aspects we are most proud of is the team that we have built. There is nothing as amazing (from a coaching standpoint) as watching a group of people come together to cheer one another on, help one another out both inside and outside of workouts, and to generally care about the success of one another even if they are in the same age group :).


While the social part is a huge draw of the group workout - there is also some really awesome science as to why the group can actually help improve your performance. In Matt Fitzgerald’s book How Bad do You Want It he writes about a phenomenon called “group effect” (196). According to a 2009 research study at Oxford, “when people work together, their brains release great amounts of mood-lifting, discomfort-suppressing endorphins then they do when the same task is taken alone (Fitzgerald 196). I think we can all attest to this in our lives. How many times have you been out running and chatting and before you know it you are done with the run? We see this happen every Saturday am in the off-season at our trainer session. We are working hard, but the clock ticks by seemingly faster than usual. 


Why does this work? The endorphins released change the way you feel about the hard work you are doing. Any time that you can reduce the pain or negativity that you feel about the work that you are doing, you can perform at a higher level. “Endurance athletes perceive less effort and perform better when training and racing cooperatively than they do alone” (Fitzgerald 196). Our coaches love receiving the logs from our athletes after their Friday am swim. It is amazing to see how people can grow as athletes, record faster times, and push themselves when they are in a group environment.  We have seen some of our athletes in our swim camps record some of, if not their fastest, 100 times. They achieve this even when fully exhausted from hours of swimming, all because they are in a group - a supportive, but competitive group, where they work together to have fun and get better.


We totally get that attending organized group workouts are not a possibility for all, but remember the  group need not be large - heck, just one person is group enough. Knowing that you will have a person to make you accountable is reason enough to love working out with another person this time of year. Having a person or two to meet you in the dark (this can be even more important from a safety standpoint) and to keep you from putting on the sweats immediately upon getting off of work will really help you stay accountable in the off-season. Finally, add to that the performance benefits and you really cannot beat the experience. So before you get in your pjs grab another person, or attend one of group sessions such as our trainer classes or swim camps and get your group effect on!