If yes, come to queerfit.

As social animals, we humans are hardwired to seek out social connections. Earlier this week, an Atlantic magazine post laid out the neuroscience behind our need for human relationships, and then asked an economist to put a dollar value on those relationships. Here’s the breakdown:

If you have a friend that you see on most days, it’s like earning $100,000 more each year. Simply seeing your neighbors on a regular basis gets you $60,000 a year more. On the other hand, when you break a critical social tie—here, in the case of getting divorced—it’s like suffering a $90,000 per year decrease in your income.

Queerfit is not the friend you see most days, so we’re not worth $100k to you. But we can be the neighbors you see on a regular basis. That’s apparently, scientifically (or economist-ically, at least) worth $60,000. You just have to come regularly to get that $60k benefit.    

Then after you’ve collected that $60k for showing up, something else happens that’s awesomely good for your social brain. You get to run and jump, lift heavy things, and climb around…as part of a social group.  

We first started running our workouts as partner and team workouts because we had a lot more people than we have equipment. We couldn’t (and still can’t), for example, put out 20 barbells and load them up in a way that lets everyone do their own deadlift workout at the same time.  

The 20 barbells in a room is the Crossfit model. There’s nothing wrong with it – doing an individual workout in a roomful of other people doing the same workout is certainly more interesting than grinding away by yourself on the Snap Fitness elliptical. But, it turns out, partner and team workouts are way more better than individual workouts. They’re more interesting, more intense, and more fun. And they’re better, both at challenging you with more complex motor skills (compare a 5-person med ball toss-burpee circle to a plain old burpee), and at working out the massive neural network you use for social thinking.  

Some people in the Crossfit world get this, and some gyms have started throwing in a team workout once a week because their clients like them (and when they’re paying $250 a month, they get what they like). But we’ve yet to see any deep thought or experimentation into how to put together team workouts in ways that take advantage of all the advantages.  

We know that exercise affects your brain. Learning and memory formation, especially, increase with regular exercise. What if the exercise being done is not individual (running by yourself on a treadmill), but group based (team sports, or queerfit).

Are there particular movements or tasks, for example, which challenge our social thinking neural networks in a way that makes us more connective with other people? As someone who really aced the Asperger Test (meaning I probably have what my mother calls “the Asparagus disease”), it would do me well if the answer is yes, doing partner push-ups helps me make sense of other people. 

Once we accept the notion that team-based movements might impact social skills, there are lots of questions to ask about queerfit. How does the level of intensity affect the way each of us acts and reacts within a group? Can this be calibrated or trained in a way that improves the cohesion of the group? What are the different ways learning can happen in a group? We can put together a workout that can make you a stronger and more mobile person, but can we create workouts that make you more connective, kinder, more curious, or more courageous?

Who knows. We’ll find out. Come be a part of the grand experiment!

We’ll be at our usual spot tomorrow at 10:00 in the greenspace just north of the Inman Park MARTA station, and then starting this Tuesday, we’re moving our Tuesday 6:15 workouts to The Wall, across the street from 660 Irwin Street, near Studioplex.