"It takes two flints to make a fire." -- Louisa May Alcott
We've all been there. That point where your muscles start to shake, you're sweating from places you didn't think you could sweat from, and your inner voice starts to whisper, "I can't do this." Deep down you know you could continue, but a break would feel so nice. And then, whether in a spin class, or aerobics class, or weight room, or yoga studio, you see that person next to you pushing through the pain, raising the bar, challenging themselves, and suddenly you find yourself doing exactly the same. That is the power of group training.
Every week I get to witness the power of group fitness and the way it transforms people inside and out. The core principle of Nalini Method is that to attain a true state of health we must be physically and emotionally fit. Exercising with a friend, loved one or even with a room full of strangers can have an enormous impact on your physical and emotional health in ways you may not have even realized.
A few years ago researchers from Oxford wanted to look at the benefits of group exercise by studying the university's rowing team. "The crew was divided into teams of six, each of which performed a series of identical workouts on rowing machines. The only variable was whether the workouts were performed alone or in teams, with the six machines synchronized by the crew's coxswain." The rowers were carefully monitored after each workout. What did they find? The rowers that had exercised with their teammates produced more endorphins and had a pain tolerance twice as high as the rowers who had exercised alone.
This means our friends and instructors can not only push, motivate and hold us accountable, but they actually change the physicality of our bodies! Researchers speculated that "the endorphin surges can likely be traced back to the evolutionary benefits of group bonding." From running around on the playground, to participating in team sports, for many of us, our childhood naturally linked fitness with social bonding. Teamwork, accountability and togetherness can add tremendously to the health benefits of being physically active and reducing emotional weight.
Over my 15 years teaching in New York I've watched bonds form between friends, loved ones and even perfect strangers. I have mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, who routinely use class as an incredible opportunity to share time and deepen their relationships. What better way to connect with another person than to share a common goal and hold each other accountable?
When a new student arrives to the studio I like to greet them, introduce myself, and find out some basic information about them, while preparing them for class. Often times before I even have the chance to do this another student has welcomed them, helped them get set up, and a connection has already been made!
My one word is connect for a reason. When we connect with others and acknowledge the connection between physical and emotional weight, the end result is feeling more connected with ourselves. Those sorts of connections don't just change the way you feel, they change who you are. You become the person spreading motivation and inspiring strength. You help others change their inner voice from "I can't do this" to "If they can do it... so can I!" Connecting with others will "light the fire" in you, as Louisa May Alcott said, and just like fire, it will start to spread.