It happened again. And it is always fascinating to witness.
When you provide people an experience that allows them to lose a focus on themselves in friendly competition with others, they work harder automatically.
Competition is an interesting concept. The common image it creates for most people is of someone who is hyper-competitive and overly focused on winning. But this is actually not how most people experience competition.
Just as often, satisfaction is derived from competing with others. This is readily reflected in the frequent use of family terms to describe those on your team. “We are family.” “They are my brothers/sisters.” “We fight together; stand or fall.” Or any of the endless variations you hear.
Winning is awesome. But so is the sense of belonging that comes from being on a team.
I saw it happen yet again teaching the Funtensity workshop to a group of fitness professionals in Beirut – the first time in that country. Some of them were skeptical about the “working harder without realizing it” aspect of friendly competition.
When I saw them the next day, they were convinced.
I have seen people instantly bond with their partner when the exercise is competitive. I have also heard one Funtensity workout regular say, “I’m conflicted because although I want to win, I don’t want to the other team to have to lose.” Truly a generous spirit (and she reads this so she will know I am referring to her!)
We know we need a challenge to see results and progress. We (should) also know by now that most people will never, ever, ever, ever, find success with going into the gym and tracking their workouts, sets, reps, and starting at themselves in the mirror as they gut out another rep or log another mile/ kilometer. There is nothing wrong with these approaches – they just will never be the right fit for most people’s personalities.
The sooner fitness embraces the “automatic intensity” boost that comes from playful, friendly competition, the sooner more people will start exercising consistently – and permanently.