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How Group Fitness Can Aid Your Breakup Recovery

This is a another guest article from our dear reader and contributer Darren Fletcher.

“Brett says it’s too easy. He wants it harder!” Dawn shouts over the thumping music track while we do the last few of a hundred squats for this track.

The energy and music in class is contagious. Dawn leads the group with warmth, enthusiasm and drive. My legs are burning and swollen and Dawn glares at me smiling.

“How are we doing on this side of the room?” A few whistles and woot’s ring out as our legs shake from fatigue. Actually the last thing on my mind right now is a painful break up. The endorphins are kicking in, my head is clearing and the workout has just started….

Can you picture yourself there?

Are you still recovering from a recent breakup that smarts sharply? Ever find yourself so emotionally ragged and dealing with so many thoughts racing through your head it is difficult to catalogue them all?

You now remember you promised your friend you would join them at the gym for group fitness class. Being in a room full of strangers is the last thing you feel like now. Your Tuesday feels like a Monday all over again and you can’t get you ex out of your mind.

What will you decide?

The problem lies in our minds – the memories, the hurt, regret, the questioning, we all need healthy distractions that can become permanent solutions, especially in times of depression, stress and anxiety which is exactly the state we all find ourselves in while dealing with a breakup. Isolation can become a selfish disease which seems to have no cure when we find so much pain sitting on the porch in our minds.

I will tell you a little story that relates well to the topic at hand and helps me illustrate the challenges and cures to the issues surrounding breakup pain and recovery.

Back in 2007, after my separation and subsequent divorce I discovered one way to deal constructively with all the negative emotions and physical manifestations of divorce: Group Fitness.

You see, after my most recent breakup and divorce in winter 2010 I really had to re-invest in becoming healthier as a life course if I was to achieve my goals of becoming the person I really wanted to be (mind, body and spirit).

This huge project would get its start at the gym.

As the months have passed working out has taken on a much larger meaning for me again with the final stamp of divorce looming large. There are so many thoughts and negative emotions that need to be dealt with and laid to rest constructively. I have spent a great deal of time analyzing just what makes these forms of exercise successful for so many and how adding this to your breakup recovery is recipe for success.

I grew up with a father who was a health nut and bodybuilder for more years than I can count. The recollections of him making “protein shake” concoctions in the blender using wheat germ, cod liver oil, eggs, and oh so much more while spewing forth his gospel on all things healthy have made a lasting impression on my psyche (even though comical at times). This has greatly affected my attitude about health and fitness today.

Make no mistake health and fitness are a large part of our mental and emotional outlook and has no harmful side effects if taken in correct doses that fit your personal circumstances.

Take the point of topic: “Group Fitness and How It Can Aid Your Breakup Recovery”.

Personally achieving the desired levels of fitness and mental health the traditional way, or even with a partner, was always a challenge. Something was always missing. Real sustained effort is needed in order for endorphins or “feel good chemicals” to be released in the amounts we need. While some self motivated individuals do great working out by themselves remember you have extra emotional and physical needs when dealing with a breakup. Group Fitness addresses these needs.

Being around others, making new friends, lessening isolation and increasing motivation are all main ingredients in this recipe.

When I first discovered “Body Pump” class I was quickly hooked because of how hard I worked and how good I felt afterwards. Not only were the endorphins working but I now had many motivating factors.

Now remember at that time in my life I was in quite a disaster emotionally speaking (think divorce), and making some pretty poor decisions in my personal life. I needed a catalyst to use as a platform for total mind, body and spiritual health. I found this springboard in Group Fitness.

Today I am fortunate to have the same instructor as I had in the winter of 2007; She is now considered one of my friends. She is 57 yrs old, lean and mean (in a nice way) and seems to always know when I need that extra push or tease to get me going.

Embarrassing me in front of class or simply calling me out to beat her in a sprint in RPM spin class always keeps me on my toes or awakens me from emotional slumber. The plain truth is the benefits of Group Fitness are far and wide and must be experienced firsthand to be appreciated.

I work out with many who have been there since 2007. The comradery in class is tangible and you are both encouraged and missed when you are not present. With the wide variety available in many gyms today Zumba, RPM/Spin, Body Pump, Cardio Kick, Mat Pilates, Yoga – just to name a few, are a short drive away in many cases.

I cannot tell you how many times I have arrived at the gym for class having a terrible day emotionally, plagued by memories of loss, full of tears and frankly just in a horrible mood. I have never left class feeling worse, always better. Sometimes, it just allows my mind to begin to feel and process healthier thoughts and ideas or to actually settle down and then begin to think about the other parts of recovery that are important, such as our emotional and spiritual health. You see, all of this goes hand in hand with achieving a balance that allows healthy recovery.

Now I know some of you may not like the idea of Group Fitness or may be resistant to trying something new. Perhaps you are shy or reserved, or maybe you don’t even have the option open to you. Also, your current health may not allow this sort of exercise. It’s OK, as always you do what you can and involve others whenever possible.

For those who do have this opportunity I challenge you to get plugged in, make new friends, express interest and concern for the others in the class, and encourage them and the instructor. You will receive back so much for doing this, and you will feel better for contributing to the class and also living outside your inner world for a few moments. Add some sweat to the tears and recovery to the new you.

So, back to decision time, WILL you stay at home or make good on your promise and explore this opportunity with your friend at the gym.

Go ahead and give it a try!

You have everything to gain including managing your emotions and giving yourself some healthy chemicals to work through your land mind. In fact why not decide to make it a regular part of your schedule and give yourself every opportunity to recover from your breakup in a healthier way!

Darren Fletcher

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9 Responses to How Group Fitness Can Aid Your Breakup Recovery

  1. Eddie Corbano May 5, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Thank you Darren for this article.

    It definitely is true: one of the best and healthiest distraction-methods after a break-up is the gym. It has many benefits as you’ve pointed out so excellently.

    Thanks,
    Eddie

    • Kukut March 4, 2013 at 8:19 am #

      Hi Eddie
      Sorry i have been on this website all day.

      What if u teach group fitness class and u can’t concentrate because my gf dumped me few days ago and she has already started a new relationship withing days and i’m still crying can’t stop myself checking her fb profile even though i don’t want to. I’m not my best and can’t give what my members want.

  2. Seeking Peace May 6, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Fletch too coincidental! I Just posted about this on the NC thread and I didn’t even know this one was up. Today I made the the first step in doing just what you descibed, taking my life back and working out the grief and sadness through exercise. Walked 3.5 miles in 75 minutes. Yea ME. I know first hand how good it feels to work out when you are emotionally stable, but it actually is even better when you aren’t. Trust me I am a medical professional. The absolute key is motivation. And that is something that can be severely in short supply in the midst of an emotional crisis. SO in additional to group fitness I’d like to add a couple of more thoughts and suggestions. First, find a workout buddy if at all possible. Someone to be accountable to and vice versa. The group can eventually become just that IF you can manage to drag yourself there alone. Having a buddy makes it easier to do that. Secondly, they do have a financial cost to them, so for folks that may have difficulty affording that extra expense, seek out churches that have fitness centers ( I can’t tell you how many there are where I live!) as they typically do have group fitness without prohibitive cost and NO contracts. Colleges also sometimes have public hours that are super reasonable but often are not widely avaible. Lastly, the very cheapest yet healthiest advice I have is just get out there and walk. Move! Do anything to get yourself propelling forward away from all the pain and horrible things that are anchoring your butt to the misery. Tennis or walking shoes are cheap, you can take them and use them anywhere in any kind of weather.
    super article as always Fletch.

    SP

    • Darren May 6, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      Thank you SP. Your comments are correct, any bit we can do even walking is huge. Great job in walking 3.5 miles btw, that is quite a distance:-)!!

      As you stated a buddy can make all the difference. Finding the resolve within ourselves is the most critical though. Once we get our head around the concept that the distraction needs to become our new lifestyle we then see a bigger picture. Physical/mental/emotional health are tied together and we should never dismiss that connection.

      I had to taste my won medicince last night as I was in horrible shape….did NOT want to work out (no sleep) and the weights felt like lead…haha. My friend and buddy Brett was in the class (sick and looking pale) still puching himself to a reasonable level and making me feel like a whiner which is exactly what I needed :-). At one point he looked back at me from his bike in RPM class and expressed (without words, ALL face and hand gestures) dude move your A$$ quit slacking…

      Just what I needed. I like being a regular fixture and Brett and I are the official welcoming commitee helping others feel encouraged and welcome.

      I am right there walking with you SP!!

      Thanks for your input 🙂

      Fletch

  3. Darren May 8, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Thanks Gry

    It really is a group effort we feed off each other in a positive way and always walk out with a smile on our face. Remember no girl push-ups….haha

    Fletch

  4. Darren December 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Starting all over with using this as a key element in my freash breakup revovery.

    It still shows the validity of exercise and its importance in breakup recovery. Believe me there are so many days when I just don’t want to go and sit home and be sad reflecting on what could have been. It is always so much better to go and get some relief and healthy distraction.

    I am thankful to have this outlet. I also alternate a 3 mile run or walk on off gym days. It is really helping….

  5. Leigh February 17, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    I had made a post on the “Did you make these mistakes?” page about weightlifting saving my life after my boyfriend ended our 6-yr relationship. Weightlifting gives me something else to focus on, helps me sleep a little longer at night, and the positive results make it so worthwhile. It keeps me busy after work because I’m either working out, preparing food or supplements or making sure I have clean workout gear. I almost always feel a little better after working out or taking a dance class. Even if the relief is only for a small part of the day, it’s important.

    My boyfriend was not interested in working out. Part of the reason he dumped me was that weightlifting and dancing took several of my evenings and I didn’t spend enough time with him. Yet, he always told me to keep it up and he liked the shape I was in. Go figure.

    • Eddie Corbano February 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Hi Leigh,

      Thank you for posting.

      I completely agree, having some kind of dedication/distraction – preferably of physical nature – is the best thing to do right after a break-up. The gym also saved me back then…

  6. Christina February 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    I’ve just read Darren’s post and must say even as low as I feel today it’s inspired me enough to make me pick the phone up and book in for body pump this evening. Was doing ok and on day 24 of NC until my Ex turned up at work with red roses for valentines day. It’s knocked me back so much & I’m hurt & angry that he thought it ok to do that after ripping my heart out.
    I know I’m actually better off without him in my life as that kind of gesture went unfulfilled when we together and he caused me a lot of heartache and pain, but still I can’t get him out of my mind and my heart aches. Oh I was strong and didn’t let him see how broken I felt. In fact he commented on how I seemed to be getting on with my life but once he’d gone I was a wreck. It’s just knocked me for six and though I didn’t give in and stayed strong (on the outside anyway) I feel like I’ve taken a huge step back and yesterday I completely fell apart as I find Sunday the hardest day as we always spent the whole day in total togetherness. Sorry I’ve gone off track but thanks for allowing me to say how I feel where I know you guys understand my pain.

    Christina

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