You know the January drill. New year, new me.

Time to dust off your trainers and dig out the gym kit you somehow misplaced in the Christmas haze of food and booze. You set a New Year’s resolution and you’re not alone; according to YouGov, 47% of Brits have at some point resolved to do more exercise / improve their fitness.  Yes, you might have failed in your efforts before but it’s going to be different this time.

Fast forward a few weeks and your optimism might not have lasted long. Social fitness network Strava have designated the second Friday of January as Quitter’s Day. A day upon which people’s well-intentioned motivations begin to falter. Meanwhile, on 20th January, the team behind QI causally tweeted, “Over 50% of people have broken their New Year’s Resolutions by now”.

I’m afraid that this isn’t pretty reading, and you might be asking what’s the answer. There are multiple factors at play but, for me, the most compelling is one of the simplest. Namely, to exercise with other people.

A number of studies show that exercising with others makes you more likely to stick with a challenge. Runtastic reports that whilst 40% of participants drop out of fitness courses shortly after they begin, the dropout rate of those participating with a friend falls to 6%. Similarly, a US study found a 19% increase in completion rates of a weight-loss programme if it was tackled with friends.


What’s more, exercising in a group reportedly boosts mental well-being by 12% and self-reported physical fitness by 24%. I’ve even read an article on Psychology Today entitled, ‘5 Reasons Why Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together’. Noted.

Participation powerhouse parkrun has recognised the power of sociable participation for years, and actively fosters a community of supportive runners. According to one survey, 48% of parkrunners travel to local runs with friends & family, whilst 21% pre-arrange to meet their run-mates there.

Against the backdrop of inherently sociable propositions, like the purpose-driven organisation Good Gym, the trendsetting running club Run Dem Crew, or the London phenomenon that is Psycle, it is time for traditional rightsholders to examine their participation schemes.

Some are already playing in the right space. The LTA, for example, is championing Cardio Tennis. This format reimagines tennis courts as the setting for fun, highly social fitness classes. Meanwhile O2 Touch, a lower barrier and very social form of rugby, hit its 30,000 registered players milestone last year. You could make that 30,001.

So, whether you sign up to your local parkrun or head to a Cardio Tennis session, know that the power of exercising with others might be the very thing to help you achieve your New Year’s Resolution.

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