"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Before we opened up Breakthrough in 2015, Caleb, RT and I began our journey as fitness professionals in 2009, by teaching private lessons either at our home or our clients’ homes. A few months went by, and we had the idea to put together a ladies only group to help women feel more comfortable trying out kettlebells for the first time. It was only supposed to be a six week “bootcamp”, but once we finished that first 6 weeks, it became clear that we were on to something. We added a couple of ongoing ladies classes, and over the next several years added different types of classes that we taught in small groups in our garage.
As these small group classes continued to grow, we started to plan for special challenges and events to keep people excited about training. After a while, we began to encourage our private clients to take part in some of these classes and events because there was something really special happening, and we knew to deny them access to that would be a disservice. What we noticed was that the community that was developing was helping people get better results and have a lot of fun at the same time! It was so powerful that when we jumped from our garage to opening Breakthrough in our current location, our major focus became semi-private training so that we could offer customized personal training programs with the benefits of having a team environment.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the idea of “training partners being results multipliers” that we stumbled upon naturally is actually supported by loads of different research studies.
A 2012 study published in the Society of Behavioral Medicine compared three groups riding an exercise bike at a given percentage of their heart rate for time. Group One exercised alone, and Group Two trained with a single partner. Group Three also worked out with a single partner, but they were told the results of their test would be based on the partner with the weaker performance.
Group One made it an average of 10.6 minutes before stopping. Group Two went for an average of 19.8 minutes - an 87% difference from Group One just by having another person to train with! Group Three made it an average of 21.9 minutes before stopping - over double what the group working alone got!
Not surprisingly, the advantages of training in a group setting don’t stop at just physical benefits. A 2018 study published in the Mental Health and Physical Activity Journal examined over a 6 month period how the setting people exercised in related to their mental health. The study compared those who took part in team sports or informal fitness groups (like yoga or other exercise classes), and those who exercised alone at least once a week.
The study found that the participants who did group physical activity, whether on a sports team or in group exercise, reported better mental health and a greater connection to others than those who exercised alone. The group exercisers were also more physically active, doing nearly twice as much activity as those who trained alone.
Now, team sports and big groups are not my thing at all. But even introverts and people who love alone time like me still need the power of community. I remember taking gymnastics and dance classes as a teenager, and while I was pretty much always nervous to go, I knew I had both professional and social support and accountability from my coaches and my classmates. As an adult, the traditional gym was not a place you’d ever find me. I was never a member of a gym before we opened our own! But I fell in love with strength training because it was something Caleb, my sister and RT and I all decided to do together, and we hired a coach who cared about us and made it fun to learn.
Being completely honest, my default has often been to “go alone” because I want to "go fast." And that still has its time and place. However, for the big, important things that need to “go far”, I am so grateful I have people with whom to “go together." This has never been more clear than the past couple of weeks when Caleb and I got Covid, and had to quarantine at home for 10 days. When we first opened Breakthrough 7 years ago, Caleb and I coached all the training sessions, wrote all the programs, signed up all new members… If we had both gotten sick back then, we would have had to cancel all our classes and we would have been devastated that we couldn’t serve our members.
Yes, we felt kind of crappy for a few days, and disappointed that we couldn’t go in and do what we love. But underneath that was also a tremendous relief and gratitude that we didn’t have to cancel any sessions, all programs got written and new members signed up without us being in the gym because of the power of having a team. We want to “go far” with our mission to help people build strength of mind, body, character and spirit - so, we “go together.”
Strength & Love, Kati