Truth: For every woman who swears by her #sweatsquad, there’s another who cringes at the though of actually having to make conversation at the gym.
“Introverts seem to gravitate towards activities that give them the opportunity to step away from the business and craziness of their lives,” says Kristen Dieffenbach, certified mental performance consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.
That doesn’t mean you should rule out specific workouts, she says; even people looking for alone time can find their zen in a crowd of 10,000 runners or in a quiet corner of that bootcamp class. But these are the best, expert-backed options for people who just don’t want to deal with other humans while breaking a sweat.
Lacing up your sneakers and pounding the pavement is a no-brainer for introverts —it’s just you and the road, and maybe Drake in your earbuds. “You’ll often hear introverts say exercise is a time for them to clear their heads and be by themselves, and running is a great way for them to find that space,” says Jessica Matthews, a certified trainer and senior advisor for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
Clocking laps in the pool is another surefire way to find that quiet time an introvert might crave. “If someone is looking to limit some of life’s distractions with exercise, getting in the water really helps you step out of your day,” says Matthews. You’ll be so focused on your own stroke and breath work, you wouldn’t even be able to respond to the chatty person in the lane next to you if you wanted to.
3. Indoor cycling
Not wanting to engage at the gym shouldn’t keep you from signing up for group classes. “I tend to find that introverts gravitate towards individual equipment-based classes,” says Matthews. “Indoor cycling is a great option because you’re with a group, but you have a defined individual space which may be more in your comfort zone.” Plus, the majority of indoor cycling classes seem to take place in the dark, so—no eyes on you!
4. Outdoor cycling
Even if you’re riding with a group, “being on a bike isn’t the most conducive to having a lot of conversation—you’re in single file on the trail or side of the road,” says Dieffenbach. Translation: You can be around people without having to make awkward small talk when you can barely breathe.
5. Triathlon training
With the introvert’s trifecta of running, swimming, and biking, triathlons can be a major draw for people who like to exercise solo, says Matthews. The dedication training takes—all those back-to-back workouts!—ensures you’ll get all the alone time you need.
6. Treadmill classes
Want instruction without having to deal with the crowds of a run club or the direct attention of a coach? “Treadmill classes can be great for the introvert who wants to take advantage of an expert guiding them through a workout experience,” says Matthews. “Plus, you can feed off the energy of the room without forcing yourself to engage one-on-one.”
“The setting is really important to introverts,” says Dieffenbach. “Getting out on the water and enjoying that serenity and the ability to just find that quiet would really appeal to them.” Even a rowing machine at the gym can provide the same soothing experience, thanks to the repetitive motions that will quickly put you “in the zone.”
Of course, yoga would be a great workout for introverts. “It really has a profound inward focus,” says Matthews, “and that would apply in a group setting or on your own at home.” And yoga is non-judgemental in nature, which means you don’t have to worry about your neighbour eyeing up your form.
9. Pilates and barre
The focus on tiny movements and breath work in Pilates or barre class basically guarantees you’ll be so zeroed in on your own practice, you won’t have time to check out what anyone else is doing—and vice versa. “It’s a very process-oriented workout, meaning you’re focused on the experience itself,” says Matthews. “People who are more introverted may enjoy that type of movement versus more conventional exercise.”
10. Weight training
The weight room seems like a strange place to find your zen, but it can actually offer some mind-body peace. “It’s really just you in the moment, focusing on your form, your technique, and the weight you’re lifting,” says Matthews. “And it doesn’t have to have that ‘I’m comparing myself to other people’ feeling that can sometimes trigger unpleasant feelings in people who tend to be more introverted.”
11. Rock climbing
Getting out in nature is a foolproof way for anyone to centre themselves, but introverts especially enjoy the calm that comes with being in the great outdoors. Even if you’re climbing in a gym, “this is a workout where individuals are responsible for their own success,” says Matthews. “It can be a solo endeavour where they can step out of their comfort zone without feeling like they have to compete with or rely on other people.”
If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, surfing—or body boarding or stand-up paddle boarding—combines the serenity of swimming with the solo satisfaction of being outside. “Getting into that zen-like sensation of being in the moment, that flow state, can be really fulfilling to an introvert,” says Matthews.
13. Streaming workouts
“There’s a really awesome array of virtual workouts now that you can do from the comfort of your own home,” says Dieffenbach. You can try any workout you want without anyone watching you, “and you get to be in a group without talking to anybody,” says Dieffenbach—an introvert’s dream.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US
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