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Peer Pressure

Filed Under: Men's Health at 4:47 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Woman on an EllipticalYou’re in the gym, working up a sweat on the elliptical machine and feeling pretty good about yourself. You’re getting into a rhythm, confident that today you will finish your workout with vigor and post-exercise joy. Then, a compact, perfectly toned, twenty-something steps onto the machine beside you. She starts exercising with an ease that screams physically fit. She barely breaks a sweat, hardly seems winded and looks as if she just stepped out of an exercise video. Your confidence and pace start to falter as hers increases. You continue for as long as possible but finally, ten minutes before you were supposed to end, you shut off the machine and shuffle despondently to the showers. Little Miss Fitness has ruined your workout.

It sounds a touch melodramatic. You don’t fall into a pit of despair every time a toned, expert exerciser starts sweating beside you. You have a little more self esteem than that.

Or do you?

Researchers have found that exercising next to a fit individual shortens the workout’s length and makes the exerciser feel worse about her body.  On the other hand, working out next to an unfit individual lengthens duration and boosts body satisfaction. Working out alone falls somewhere in the middle. And it doesn’t matter how truly in shape you are. The person next to you, not your actual body, will dictate the success of your exercise.

So what should you do? Well, the leaders of the study have recommended moving to the “less fit” area of the gym for optimum performance, but that’s not always possible. You can’t hide from the physically fit every time you’re at the gym. They tend to congregate there, often. Instead, you should try to minimize your distraction. Ignore the people next to you or at the very least, imagine they are struggling much more than they actually are. Close your eyes; blast your music. And focus on your workout, not the girl’s next to you.

One Response to “Peer Pressure”

  1. Leonidas says:

    That’s why i work out at home.
    That, and I like to curse at dumbells and EZ curl bars as they rise. Doesn’t go over well in public.

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