Alone or in company – What is the best way to work out?

Busy lives and two years of a pandemic left many isolated and unable to work out with others. Now that gyms, swimming pools, and group activities are back open, you might be wondering what is best for you?

Truthfully, working out in company and alone both have their benefits. The most important thing is that you exercise.

Knowing what advantages come with keeping fit alone and with others will help you decide which is the best fit for your lifestyle, needs, and goals.


Benefits of working out alone

Working out on your own isn’t for everyone. But for those that do, there are many advantages. These include:


Improved mental health

Exercise, in general, is proven to boost our mental health. Specifically, working out alone calms us and reduces stress levels, according to research. So when you feel overwhelmed, try exercising alone and focus on yourself, your activities, and your breathing.



A partner or class can motivate us to start exercising, but what happens if they fall through? Most people will treat this as an opportunity to rest, but it can quickly become an issue if such cancellations reoccur.

You need to take a break sometimes, and rest is essential for the body, but having a flakey workout buddy can mean you rest too much and move away from your fitness goals. On the other hand, you have fewer excuses when you work out alone as no one else can disrupt your plans.

While working out with others can be a great encouragement, the most effective and long-lasting motivation comes from within. We are most likely to keep up with our fitness goals if we are intrinsically motivated.



It is easier to fit exercise in if you only have to consider your own schedule. It can save you time and effort, which again reduces the stress. So if you are already struggling to fit in workouts, you may find that doing it alone makes doing so a little easier.


Work towards your new personal best

Some people are simply more competitive with themselves than with others. You may find that competing to beat your personal best challenges you to work even harder and keeps you focused on the fitness goals that matter most to you.


Avoid distractions

Having others around can easily distract you from your exercise. Lack of concentration during workouts can reduce their effectiveness and even increase the likelihood of injuries.


Feel less self-conscious

Many people feel self-conscious when they are around others, which can prevent them from pushing themselves as hard as they can. Working out alone takes this out of the equation and allows you to try your best without worrying about what anyone else thinks.


Tailor your workout

When you work out alone, you choose what you do and when. This offers greater flexibility, and many find that, because of this, exercising alone is easier.


Benefits of working out together

One 2016 study found that group workouts tended to have greater overall health benefits.

Some of the other benefits of working out with partners or groups include:


Starting to exercise

Getting started is often the most challenging part of any fitness journey. Many people find it easier to begin if they are not alone.


Continuing to exercise

Working out with others can not only help you to start working out, but it can also motivate you to continue. There is a level of accountability provided when you exercise with others.

For those who are a little too good at coming up with excuses not to exercise, partners or classes mean you affect someone other than yourself if you bail, which means you’re more likely to keep to your workout plans.


Challenge yourself

There are several notable reasons why you might not be seeing results. Perhaps you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough or are simply bored with your current routine.

A partner, coach, or class may help you challenge yourself and try something new. This can be a great way to find new workouts that you love and keep you exercising regularly.


Mental health benefits

Just like working out alone can be calming, working out with others provides an opportunity to socialise and stay connected. This can be particularly beneficial for people that don’t always enjoy exercising as it adds another layer to the activity.


Don’t forget

Whether you choose to exercise alone or in company, know that no fitness journey is complete without healthy eating. You need food that complements your workouts so you have the energy you need and avoid undoing your hard work.


Which is better, working out alone or in company?

There are advantages to working out alone, with a partner, or in a group. Ultimately, you need to look at the potential benefits of each and decide which best matches your goals and needs.

Think about how you feel before and after different workout sessions and keep a record of your progress. Your exercise should help you reach your fitness goals but don’t forget that you are more likely to continue with a workout you enjoy. So if you dread working out alone but find it gives you the best results, consider swapping between each to get the best of both worlds.

No one can tell you what will work best for you, and you may find that you prefer to mix things up. For instance, if you have specific goals, you may find that working out alone allows you to meet these better. But you may also want to attend a weekly group workout session to keep things interesting with new exercises and socialising.



Jurg Widmer Probst

tips for rest days and recovery runs

TIt is one of the strangest sights in sport. Right in the middle of the toughest cycle race on the planet, the riders in the Tour de France have a rest day.

Now, there are plenty of things that we can imagine doing on a rest day after a few thousand kilometres of hard cycling (if we ever got that far) – a spot of sightseeing maybe, a gentle walk or maybe just lying down in a dark room for a few hours. But pretty much the last thing we would want to do is get on a bike again: which is why it is always so odd to see so many of the pro cyclists either out on a ‘short’ training ride or grinding away on a spin bike. But this is what they do – and like every other aspect of their training and racing it is all a part of a carefully planned out system to keep them in the very peak of condition.

Now, we’re not suggesting that any of you are going to be taking part in one of cycling’s Grand Tours any time soon – but the professional riders’ example does offer an interesting angle on the importance of rest and recovery days as we all try to get fitter and perform at our best. So, here are a few quick tips on making the most of those rest and recovery days.

Take them, don’t skip them

It is very easy to give rest and recovery days a miss when you are feeling great. It is particularly hard when you have just taken up a new sport or activity – it feels good, it makes you feel better, and you just want to keep doing it. But it is incredibly important to take a break from time to time – we would suggest at least one day a week off if you can, and maybe even more frequently if you’re just starting out at running.

You don’t always have to put your feet up

There is a difference between rest days (which are pretty much what they sound like) and recovery days, which usually include a ‘recovery run’ of some sort. The principle behind these – a little like the rides that the Tour de France riders do – is to give your body time to repair itself while keeping it moving. The idea here is to run at around half your normal speed, and by keeping the muscles moving and the blood pumping you should actually be recovering even more quickly than you would on a day on the sofa. 

Mix it up

When you are running, don’t run at your limit all the time. While it is good to push yourself, we really don’t recommend that you do it every day. Depending on how many days each week that you are heading out, we suggest that you make at least three of your weekly runs at ‘recovery’ pace. It is all about building some variation into your routine – not only does a change of pace help your body to repair itself, but it also keeps things more interesting.

Don’t just rest on your rest days

‘Rest’ in this context doesn’t just mean sitting in front of the TV all day. Even if you don’t do a recovery run, we still recommend that you try to get out and do some form of gentle exercise. We’re huge fans of walking here – it is a great way to warm up and cool down before and after a run, but it is also a perfect way to keep moving without too much of that damaging impact you get when running.

Listen to what your body is trying to tell you

Our final tip is just learn how to listen to your body when you’re not on a rest day, in order to make sure that you take the breaks you need, when you need them.

We always recommend running without headphones – not only is it safer, but it is also a way for you to focus solely on your body, how it is moving and how it feels as you run, without any distractions. While you hopefully won’t literally hear your body cracking and groaning under the pressure of running, you should certainly feel more in tune with it – so listen honestly to the feedback it is giving you, and do the right thing.

Jürg Widmer Probst