Whenever I take a weekend hike with my best friend, or get a group together for some high-energy yoga, we have an amazing time. Honestly, we usually have so much to talk about that we hardly even notice that we're sweating and building muscle while we chat. Working out solo or with a big group is definitely a question of personal preference, or even your mood on a given day, but if you're curious about why working out with friends is better than hitting the gym alone all the time, rest assured, there are plenty of reasons to call up your pals for some fun physical activity.
Like I said, I've always been into doing group workouts with my friends, but when I saw Tracee Ellis Ross' Instagram post dedicated to her BFFs and workout partners Mary J. Blige and Gabrielle Union-Wade (what a squad, right??), I knew she was onto something even bigger. Honestly, I think this particular trio of talented women could do just about anything, but Ross' appreciation for the way her friends motivate her is so relatable for non-celebrities like myself.
In her Instagram post, Ross gushed over the way that joining her friends for a workout encouraged her and helped her get out of a funk. "Powerhouse badass women kicking ass. this morning at 8a i walked into the orbit of a bunch of strong sisterhood magic!" she wrote in the caption to the post. "i was soooo tired and not in the mood to workout this morning, so thank you @gabunion and @therealmaryjblige for the motivation and sister vibes, and @heartandhustlegym for the environment."
It turns out that Ross' message of appreciation for her star-studded BFFs doesn't just make for an amazing Instagram post. In fact, according to Evan Renfroe, a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, Ross is absolutely right about one of the main benefits of working out with your pals. "Having close friends to motivate and encourage you can help to make the journey a little more enjoyable," he tells Elite Daily in an email. Good friends will, of course, support you in listening to your body and resting when you need to, but if you're just dreading getting yourself moving, your BFFs are the perfect people to send you lots of motivation.
But you don't have to be doing everything in sync during your group workouts if you don't want to. A little friendly competition is also a perk of getting active with a couple of friends, says Renfroe. "There's a fun yet competitive advantage to working out with some close friends," he explains. "You find that you're able to push a bit harder and accomplish a bit more when the process can be 'gamified.'"
In fact, Renfroe suggests that varying what each person does at a given time is a great way to keep things interesting during the workout. He recommends trying to "divide and conquer" throughout the routine: For example, if you're all trying to do squats, planks, and squat holds by the end of the session, each person could pick one exercise to do before you all swap. The key to making this method super motivational, says Renfroe, is to have whoever is doing the still exercises (i.e. the planks and the squat holds) encourage the person actively doing the squats.
Another perk to working out with your BFFs instead of on your own is the fact that you probably all have different fitness interests and past experiences, which presents the perfect opportunity to try out an exercise that one of your friends loves, but that you've never really gotten into. "Regardless of goals or preferences, working out with friends can be an incredible way to change things up," says Renfroe. For example, if you know someone who's passionate about barre, plan for a group of you to all go try out a class together. Not only will it be less intimidating to experiment with people you trust and love, but you might just walk away with a new activity that you're passionate about.
Don't be afraid to think even more outside-the-box than a new workout class, though. "Another fun way is to change up the approach entirely; get out of the gym and go outside," suggests Renfroe. "There are fun rock-climbing classes, [you could] play a pickup game of flag football, go for a challenging hike or a bike ride," he says, adding that it's good not to always stay confined to the same routine on the same exercise equipment, which can definitely get boring over time.
The bottom line is that you should work out with whoever you want to, whether that's just you or a whole gang of your favorite people. But I'm willing to bet that, if you bring all of your BFFs together, you'll have both an amazing workout and a whole lot of fun.