Sleeping, going to the bathroom, having conversations — these are things I like to do alone. Exercise, on the other hand, has just never been one of them.
To me there’s nothing as exciting as bringing a pal to my favorite yoga class or bonding with fellow dancing queens and kings during a ballet barre workout.
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to exercise in a group, especially activities that don’t feel like the awesome workout they really are.
Here we’ve rounded up 24 group workouts as varied as Dance Dance Revolution, kayaking, and the Suzuki acting method (hint: it involves a lot of stomping). For those who prefer a solo workout sesh or love being part of a team, there’s bound to be something for everyone.
Group workouts aren’t just about being able to hide in the back corner where the instructor can’t see us. Research shows that people who work out with others may fare better than those who go it alone.
A 2015 study even found dancers could tolerate higher levels of pain when surrounded by others, and dancing together encouraged bonding.
But impressing Zumba classmates with hips that don’t lie isn’t the only kind of group fitness. The 24 exercises below are for the rugged (get on those hiking boots), the yogis (plus their flexible friends), and the techies (hey, Wii sports). Got a workout planned for this week? Try one of these!
1. Hike it out
Trail mix, swanky boots, a great tan… oh, right, and a serious workout. On a free weekend, get a group of friends together and head for a beautiful outdoor trail.
It’s pretty obvious all that walking and climbing adds up to a great cardio workout, but nature-walkers also tend to be less stressed than the rest of us.
2. Kick it on a kayak
Row, row, row that boat. Every stroke is another step toward physical fitness. An unexpected low-impact workout, kayaking is a perfect way to appreciate the great outdoors while strengthening the arms and core and burning hundreds of calories.
3. Make waves
The crash of the waves against jagged rocks, the splash of foam against the sides of the rubber boat, and no one’s thinking about the unbelievable health benefits of white water rafting.
Rafters get an arm, ab, and core workout and can burn some serious calories in an hour. Plus, every raft brings home some awesome group memories.
4. Bust out the bike
There’s nothing like feeling the wind in your hair and seeing it in someone else’s. Biking is great for cardiovascular health. So great, in fact, that it may reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer by half.
5. Rock on
Talk about trust-building exercises. Try making your way up a cliff (in appropriate equipment, of course) and then getting belayed back down. Not ready for toprope climbing? Bouldering might be more your style.
Beginners might want to start on an indoor rock wall and then move on to the real thing. Some of the best benefits include improved aerobic fitness and stronger muscles.
6. Pretty up the park
Parks all over the US are looking for volunteers, so sign up today to help preserve nature. Whether it’s carrying heavy trash bags or squatting to pull trash from a lake, saving the earth is a group effort and a team workout.
7. Keep it green
Go green and make friends with the trees. You can even make friends with some people, too, while caring for trees or planting new ones.
Besides helping the environment, a 2018 meta-analysis of 140 studies showed that exposure to nature may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.
8. Run for someone’s life
For those who haven’t heard, running is a great form of exercise. And there’s even more motivation to run when it’s part of a social good effort.
Forget that “I think I can” mantra — there are a ton of charitable causes worth running for, from fighting homelessness to raising money for cancer research. Join a team today and start training to run or walk the race.
9. Be a bro (or sis)
If exercising for your own health isn’t enough, try working out for someone else’s. The Big Brother or Big Sister Sports Buddies group will partner adults and kids who bond over basketball, soccer, and other activities. Find one near you and put a big smile on a kid’s face.
10. Do it for the dogs
One of the biggest benefits of having a dog is getting some exercise while walking them all over town. Plus, it’s a way to pick up dates — er, meet new friends — in the neighborhood. Join a dog-walking group or volunteer to take a pooch for a stroll through an animal shelter.
11. Get workin’ at the car wash
Scrubbing, bending, and climbing to get those wheels squeaky clean might be just as much of a workout as hitting the gym. Get a group together and spend an afternoon washing each other’s cars. Just 30 minutes of sudsing up can burn about 150 calories. Water fights optional.
12. Om out
One of the benefits of partner yoga is touch — and we’re talking the PG kind here. So, bring a pal (or prepare to make some new ones) and find a class near you.
If partner exercises aren’t your thing, locate some local yoga lessons and get a group of buds together. Less stress, better balance, and a stronger bod are just too good to pass up.
13. Never let ‘em see you sweat
Self-defense classes help prepare the mind and body against potential threats. Learn from the instructor and from classmates while getting a great workout. Muay Thai, Krav Maga, and Judo are just a few styles of self-defense that offer lessons all over the globe.
14. Find your chi
For a slower style of exercise, try Qigong. It’s an ancient Chinese meditation practice that focuses on breath and balance.
Or test out tai chi, a form of Chinese martial arts that involves gentle movement, focused meditation, and breathing exercises. These elements make it a great form of stress relief, according to a 2018 study on 50 participants.
15. Synch or swim
Is there anything that says “team effort” more than a group of people in identical outfits doing the same dance routine? Synchronized swimming isn’t just for ladies in pink bathing caps — it’s an Olympic sport.
Memorizing all those routines is intense exercise for the mind and repeating the movements means a big workout for the arms and legs. Some gyms and community centers offer synchronized swimming classes, so find one near you.
16. Dance like everyone’s watching
Travel to Spain, India, or the mean streets with a dance workout like tango, bhangra, break dancing, or Zumba. Learning some new moves is a great way to get a glimpse of another culture and meet new buds, all while getting in some serious cardio.
17. Be a tourist, oui?
Those double-decker buses may look fancy, but for the real workout, hop off and hoof it! Grab the friends, the fam, and any stragglers on the street and see the sights on foot.
Walking may not be an intense workout like running, but it can still improve our cardiovascular fitness while busting stress.
18. Step up to Suzuki
This Japanese method of drama training isn’t as well-known as say, puppet shows, but some actors swear by it. The exercises focus on the whole body, so there’s lots of moving to music, shouting, and bonding with fellow confused classmates. Not for the faint of heart.
19. Make history
For history nerds (er, experts), reenacting the Civil War or the Oregon Trail is just about the coolest thing ever. But reenactment groups aren’t all about the brain.
No one took cabs or trains back in the day, so be prepared for a lot of walking, running, and galloping on horses. A reenactment group in thy town awaits thee, so go forth.
20. What’s up, Wii?
We’re not advising anyone to become a tech-lovin’ shut-in, but some Wii sports can make a big difference in cardiovascular fitness.
The games are way more exciting with a friend, so grab a pal, get into some workout gear, and prepare to get pumped up. We love working up a sweat with tennis and boxing.
21. Roll out
All you need is a scrunchie and you’ll be traveling back to the 90s in no time. Roller blading may not be the latest craze anymore, but any kind of skating is a great workout and an even better bonding activity. When winter hits, head to the ice-skating rink for some chilly together time.
22. Be a baller
The shoes are cool, the pizza’s deliciously gross, and the arcade prizes are tempting. Bowling alleys are great for some laid-back hangout time that doesn’t involve vegging out in front of the tube.
Plus, it’s a subtle workout. With the average bowling ball weighing 14 pounds, no doubt your arm muscles will be sore after a few rounds. Join a local league or compete against friends to see who really needs those bumpers.
23. Start a revolution
A Dance Dance Revolution, that is. There’s no better way to bond with friends than competing to see who’s got hotter moves. Shake it like a Polaroid picture in public with other gamers or forgo the potential humiliation and snag the Wii version.
24. Pick it up
For those who wish we still played stickball out on the street, here’s the answer. Apps, like OpenSports, show users where pickup sports games are happening, so they can hit the baseball field, tennis court, or basketball hoops when the urge hits.