I have never been an athlete, but I’m not a stranger to exercise either.
After having a child, I found my free time squeezed and regular organized exercise was the first casualty. But I wasn’t just busy; I was also unmotivated. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the reason. Solo gym sessions or a quick DVD workout while the baby sleeps ― the new mom exercise staples ― weren’t holding my interest at all.
So I did something drastic: I signed up for an intensive hiking trip in Peru, hoping that it would get me moving at home again too.
Looking over my travel itinerary before I left for the northern Chachapoyas region, I scanned phrases such as “3-hour hike through primary forests” and “abseiling down waterfalls,” and I started to feel a little apprehensive. At an elevation of three thousand meters, everyone ― even the super fit ― are often huffing and puffing.
When we met, my fellow travelers looked like they were fitter than me and also had nicer hiking shoes. Yet I felt a sense of immediate camaraderie.
As we made our way through the forests and were rewarded with amazing views of stunning waterfalls and ancient archeological sites, this team of strangers spurred me on. Being physically active with a group motivated me to reach the summit or the valley below ― rather than simply lying down on the forest floor and giving up, which I might well have done if I were alone.
It turns out that experts corroborate my experience: Group exercise and excursions can really jumpstart a new attitude toward fitness.
“People get a significantly better workout in a group than they do on their own,” said Allison Kimmel, a master trainer and group fitness instructor who is currently traveling with and training Lorde on her Melodrama tour. That’s because other people offer both support and competition, which encourages everyone to push through their individual comfort zones.
Strength in numbers also…