Episode 113: Why Synchronized Movement Creates Connection & How to Harness the Effect with Kelly McGonigal

Kelly McGonigal

The work we do as fitness professionals transcends physical health and entertaining people. It has a deep impact on the lives of our clients.

Kelly McGonigal

Psychologist, Fitness Professional, & Best-Selling Author

The work we do as fitness professionals transcends physical health and entertaining people. It has a deep impact on the lives of our clients. We all know the feeling you get when you’re moving with other people, and suddenly your sense of self expands, in a way that both makes you feel more connected with the people you’re moving with, (you trust them, you like them, you feel like you belong) but also your sense of self expands to feel “bigger than self” possibilities, like hope, optimism, strength, and individual and collective power. It’s called “Collective Joy”, and today we learn how to harness its power. We also learn in detail about the mind body connection of the exercise modalities we teach, how our emotions affect our physical health, and how movement affects our mood. We learn how movement helps form communities, why exercise makes us more loving, as well as the science behind it all.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

• Why synchronous movement is essential for feeling Collective Joy

• Practical tips on how to harness Collective Joy in our classes

• What can be a hindrance to experiencing Collective Joy  

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Here’s the Complete List of Tips:

(8:15) Why movement and group exercise is so special, and essential to our culture today.

Group exercise is a modern example of how we as human beings have always formed connections with each other- we use music, we cooperate, collaborate, we support each other, we cheer each other on, and we often include physical touch!

(10:00) Learning about “Collective Joy”

It’s the feeling that you get when you’re moving with other people, and suddenly your sense of self expands, in a way that both makes you feel connected with the people you’re moving with, (you trust them, you like them, you feel like you belong) but your sense of self expands to feel “bigger than self” possibilities, like hope, optimism, strength, and individual and collective power.

(13:30) Why synchronous movement is essential for the feeling of Collective Joy.

Although movement together in any way has a benefit, moving in synchronicity with each other and with the music is really what creates Collective Joy. Sometimes we do things in a movement experience because of how it affects our mind and our mood and not just our muscles. That is as valuable as if you were to do just functional exercise.

(15:00) When we move together we become better human beings

There is so much research that supports that when you have an experienced of synchronized movement, that you become more likely to cooperate, more likely to give resources to benefit the common good, more likely to help a stranger- even beyond the people you moved with. Moving together also helps expand your sense of self, and the world around you that belongs to you.

(22:00) Practical tips on how to harness collective joy in our classes

The prime brain chemistry effect of moving together really kicks in after about 20 minutes, and your brain starts to release endocannabinoids, that enhance the pleasure you get from social contact. So don’t push elements of social connection at the beginning of class. They will think your wisdom is more wise, and your encouragement is more encouraging. Let your movement set the right tone, and then trust the brain chemistry. People literally get a better workout when they work as a group, and feel a collective purpose.

Facing the group can have a great influence on establishing Collective Joy, because participants are not focused on themselves in the mirror. Keeping movements simple and not too complex can also help establish the state.

(29:30) How important is it to move along with the group?

Definitely moving all out with the group is ideal, but often not sustainable because of how many classes per week we have to teach. Your energy can be a contagion to the group. But it also depends on the modality you teach and your strength as an instructor. You may be exceptional at motivating and inspiring in other ways.

(31:30) What can be a hindrance to experiencing Collective Joy?

Studio owners should consider “empathic design” that allows clients to feel like the studio is a space that was built for them. Is it easy to navigate your body through? Do the chairs accommodate all body types? Who are the photos of the people on the window? Think about how you will allow people to see themselves and feel welcomed at every point of contact. When people are feeling open, it’s easier for them to feel Collective Joy.

(38:30) How you coach and cue can have an effect on Collective Joy.

This is why you need to learn the essentials of coaching and cueing in The Art of Coaching and Cueing!

(39:30) Some tools we have in our toolbelt to help amplify Collective Joy.

Physical intensity helps to amplify Collective Joy. While it can be experienced in a gentle yoga flow, the more your heart rate gets up, the more profound the experience tends to be, and the more connected people feel with each other. Consider putting in bursts of intensity, and right after an intense cycle is when people will feel most open to connecting.

Music has a very strong amplifying effect of Collective Joy. Singing together helps to create Collective Joy. It increases endorphins, which amplifies bonding.

The closer in proximity that people are to each other can have an impact on Collective Joy. (within reason). Did you know happy sweat smells different? The smell con be contagious!

References in the Episode:

The Art of Coaching and Cueing

Barry’s Master Class in Singapore

Show Note's Index