Love it or hate it, the benefits of exercise far outweigh its negative side effects. (See: copious amounts of sweat, price of a gym membership, early wake up time, etc.) But even if you are a low-key athlete, consistently hitting the gym and giving it 110 per cent is a hard slog.
The easiest way to stay motivated? Tap into your competitive side by joining a group fitness class.
Most people are likely to work harder as part of a group than when working alone, out of fear of being labelled the ‘weakest link’—and this is particularly apparent in sport. Psychologists have labelled this phenomenon the Kohler effect.
As The Cut points out, a 2012 study found that slower members of a university swim squad and track & field team made greater gains over time than the group’s stronger athletes. For the slower athletes, social comparison was a very effective source of motivation.
If you’re not part of a team and prefer to exercise for your general wellbeing, joining a group fitness class can tap into your competitive side and in turn, lead to a better workout.
Psychologist Norbert Kerr from Michigan State University has studied the Kohler Effect in group exercise settings. “When we ask them if they had a particular objective—to outperform their partner, to keep up with their partner, not to fall too far behind their partner—they usually say no,” he told The Cut. “So my current best guess is that there may be little or no conscious awareness of the processes that produce the Kohler Effect.”
In light of these findings, perhaps it’s time we gave spin another try.