The Major Benefits of Group Workouts
Issue 30: Sometimes you just need some support to push you through
Happy Wednesday, friends! Just a little top-of-the-letter reminder that I’m running the NYC Marathon this year, raising money for The Fresh Air Fund. (Read about why right here.) Please support the effort by heading to my fundraising page. Any donation helps and I appreciate any and all.
In the before times, I worked out with other people all. the. time. I just loved taking group fitness classes at studios around New York City—that’s a benefit of living here, with all the options for movement. I loved the variety these classes served up, from Pilates to cycling to strength training. So I rarely worked out without being surrounded by others.
Obviously, things changed during the pandemic. I exercised with zero people for most of 2020, especially during the lockdown, and after that, only got to sweat with a select few lovely humans. But recently, my vaccinated self has been able to take some of my favorite in-person classes with a room full of people trying to build strength or stamina. And gosh, it feels glorious to be surrounded by the drive and energy of other class goers again. Swinging kettlebells or sprinting on a treadmill next to someone I don’t know has the ability to keep pushing me to work hard, especially when I feel like stopping. It also almost always inspires me to turn up the speed or pick up a heavier weight. (I definitely found myself eying who had a heavier kettlebell than me in a Fhitting Room class recently.)
In addition to jumping into some group classes, I also decided to do a group long run this past weekend. Hosted by run apparel brand, Tracksmith, I trekked 13 miles from Dumbo, Brooklyn, through Manhattan, and back to Brooklyn. It’s probably been five years since I did a group run because truthfully, running with others I don’t know (and who don’t know my pace) intimidates me. I may be able to run far, but for the most part, I like keeping the speed slow and steady. And while I do like working on getting faster, I prefer my long runs to feel easy(ish) and when I’m trying to keep up with someone else, they obvi don’t feel so easy. I say all that as my defense for avoiding group runs, but also, sometimes I just need some people to pull me through the long miles. And it was definitely time to switch things up this week and have a team of people to support me out on the road. Even better, Tracksmith’s route for the weekend mimicked the one I wanted to do so it just felt right. And I’m so glad I did it.
What I do love about clocking miles with other people—in addition to having water stations along the way and someone to follow without thinking about where to go—is that you basically have built-in motivation leaders cheering you along, checking in on how you’re feeling, and new faces to get to know as you go. I met many people on Saturday that I would never have had the chance to catch up with without those long miles. That includes a woman who just moved to NYC from Germany and a man who’s running both the Chicago and NYC marathons this year. This man also seemed to love getting out there to run—no time goals for those races required, just a love of the sport and meeting people on his path to the finish line. Speaking with others makes you realize how running (and any physical feat, really) can so easily create a bond between people. Marathons always have the ability to bring out the positives of the human spirit and getting to see that on long run days adds something extra special to the training plan.
A few other people’s words about wellness I’ve read (and loved) recently:
I’ve read many statistics regarding alcohol use during pandemic times and how many people are turning to the bottle to deal with the stress and isolation of these times. Because of that, I loved Kelley Manley’s story on MarieClaire.com, “Wine Didn’t Make Me a Better Mom,” all about her decision to stop drinking alcohol. She originally stopped drinking in her 20s, then decided to join her mom friends in having a glass of wine here or there, after she had her daughter. But instead of making her feel better about parenting, she felt worse. So she stopped again. It’s a heartfelt story about alcohol use, so give it a read.
If you’ve been thinking about all the people in Afghanistan ever since the U.S. troops left and the Taliban took over, you’ll want to check out this article on Bicycling.com about female Afghan cyclists and what they’ve been going through over the past several weeks and beyond. Shannon Galpin, an activist for women’s rights in Afghanistan who supported the women’s national cycling team, offers more details on what’s happening in the country. You’ll also find how to support these cyclists, including donating to Galpin’s fundraiser.
The Paralympics kicked off yesterday and Outside’s “Everything You Need to Know About the Paralympics” offers a great guide into the history, athlete classifications, and the U.S. athletes to watch on screen. Just like the Olympics, you can check out live and delayed coverage on NBC and Peacock.
The latest updates on the fitness industry:
Allbirds, makers of sustainable sneakers, just launched an activewear line. It includes high-waisted leggings, biker shorts, and a tank with a built-in bra. The materials feature a combo of eucalyptus tree fiber and merino wool, like the shoes.
Sweaty Betty—one of my personal favorite brands for leggings—just launched a cycling line, complete with everything from padded leggings, shorts, and bibs to tees and jackets.
What’s The Final Rep without some Peloton news? After recalling the treadmill for safety concerns, the brand has now released the new Peloton Tread, complete with safety upgrades. It officially goes on sale on August 30.
Here’s one form cue that always resonates with clients…
These words tend to work for individuals I train as an ah-ha moment for feeling stronger in a move or activating the right muscles. Many times, when people do a single-leg deadlift, they either focus on dropping their chest or lifting the back leg. This sometimes leads to a break in form—you want the body to move in one straight line, rather than folding at the hips. Instead, think about hinging at the hips, just as you would when doing a regular deadlift. That means you send your butt to the back of the room. Also, keep the shoulders packed and core engaged and if it works for you, create tension in that lifting leg to help you balance and maintain that straight line from shoulders through the heel. To stand up, make sure you push the floor away with your standing leg.
One move to add to your exercise routine…
Want to turn up the challenge on your plank and get more of the upper body involved? OK, I got you. Do a plank with row to press. Start in a plank position, with each hand on a dumbbell. Then, row your left arm back, pulling the weight to your rib cage like a renegade row. At the top, rotate your heels toward the floor, stacking hips and shoulders to form a side plank. At the same time, press the weight straight up, forming a T with your arms. Then bring the weight back to your shoulder, rotate back to your regular plank, and place the weight back under your shoulder in standard plank position. Repeat on the right side. Continue alternating for 5-10 reps per side.
For a full workout, try…
The Tone It Up app! For fun, energetic trainers who keep you moving through strength and cardio workouts, turn to TIU. The app features video-based workouts, plus GIF-based routines that allow you to go at your own pace—perfect for times when you want some movement inspiration and don’t want to watch a full video. Check out their programs, too, for week- or month-long workout schedules. (Full disclosure, I do some work for TIU, so while they didn’t pay me to write this, they do pay me for other projects.) Try the app for 7 days free, then it’s $15/month.
The gear I’m loving to get me out the door…
If you’re looking for a sleek tracker that shows you all your stats (steps, active minutes, sleep, and more), I have been loving the Fitbit Luxe. One of their newer watches in the line, the gold finish makes it look fancier, while the small size helps it blend in when you’re wearing other jewelry. I also love Fitbit for their automatic activity and sleep tracking—so if you forget to start or stop the recording, it’ll still give you your numbers. It also has a pretty stellar battery life, compared to other trackers.
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