16 Workouts and physical team-building activities

When you think of team-building activities, working out may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, it’s worth changing your opinion on that, because getting active as a group can offer a lot of benefits. Various forms of physical competition are not only great for people’s health and well-being, but they can foster camaraderie and build team culture

Not all workouts are created equal, though. In this post we are breaking down several types of group exercise that are great for team-building, bonding, and encouraging health. We’ll tell you which ones are great for getting outdoors, which ones are best for teams that are spread out, and which ones you should head to a gym for. See what your team would be into and then get moving - together! 

16 Exercise ideas for groups

Which workout is best for your group? Let’s narrow down our favorite ideas here based on a few different factors. For a list of more indoor team-building activities, make sure to catch up on our past posts.

Indoor activities

1. Yoga

The perfect activity for a low-strain, low-pressure group outing. Yoga can be as strenuous as your attendees want it to be - from beginners to advanced yogis, there is something for everyone in yoga. Based on a series of poses, meditation, and breathing exercises, yoga is known to provide a lot of benefits for wellness. Use yoga during longer retreats or events where you need a break, or as part of a more comprehensive effort around overall employee wellness. A yoga session is also ideal for small group gatherings like a management or leadership activity

What you’ll need: A large space; yoga mats; towels; someone comfortable leading

2. Self-defense class

This type of class is great because it offers benefits outside of wellness. Who wouldn’t appreciate feeling safer in their day-to-day life? Find a great instructor who does private lessons and set up a space in your office, or find a venue. There are a lot of different self-defense disciplines from Krav Maga to Aikido, so there is plenty to pick from. Your team will get a workout and bond, while also becoming more disciplined and prepared for troublesome situations. This activity is a good choice for large and diverse groups.  

What you’ll need: A large space; instructor

3. Kickboxing

Similar to a self-defense class but with a little more of an aerobic pace, kickboxing has become popular in the last decade in all kinds of gyms and studios. This cardio workout sets a series of kicks, punches, and other moves to upbeat music. You and your coworkers will get to burn a lot of calories together and it's a lot of fun to master some of the more complex choreography together. You can find a certified instructor to lead you, or purchase a class online or through a subscription and then display it on a screen for your group. 

What you’ll need: A large space; instructor; music

4. Training stations

If your group is a little more into physical fitness, you can set up your own training studio with various stations. In a large space, set up different areas with different exercise tasks, and have everyone work their way around the room completing each section. You can use anything from jump rope to barbells or other equipment that you bring in, or you can keep it simple with things like jumping jacks or push ups. While you can keep the exercises relatively low-strain, it's best to treat this activity like a real workout and plan it for people who already enjoy exercising. 

What you’ll need: A large space; equipment for 4 stations (such as jump ropes, hand weights, etc). 

Outdoor activities

5. Rock climbing

This activity is a good way to get your whole body moving and use your mind to problem solve as well. Rock climbing is a fantastic workout because it uses your full body - your arms, legs, and core. Plus, this activity is very social. You need to work as a two-person team, and most rock-climbing events have various routes so there are multiple people on a wall at the same time. It’s a ton of fun to cheer on your teammates and it feels great getting to the top! Read our past posts for more team-building activity ideas. 

What you’ll need: Full rock climbing equipment including ropes, pulleys, helmets; a certified instructor or leader; a rock wall

6. Hiking

If you live in an area with great trails, get out there and plan a fun activity! Hiking is the perfect outdoor adventure for groups of any size. This activity will range from fairly simple to highly difficult, depending on which trails you choose and the activity level of your team. For some added fun, ask your team to research and suggest trails they are interested in. Remind everyone to dress appropriately, and bring along plenty of water and trail mix. 

What you’ll need: Water bottles; snacks; everyone should wear hiking boots or trainers

7. River tubing

An exciting warm-weather activity, tubing down a river is a low-stress activity that is great for groups big and small. You can pick a more strenuous route which will require more paddling and maneuvering, or you can keep things light and simply float on a slow-moving river. Some people like to bring along a floating cooler of drinks and snacks. We also suggest everyone wear water shoes so that there is no discomfort if you need to wade through the river at all. Additionally, make sure everyone applies sunscreen!

What you’ll need: Swimming attire; tubes for everyone; refreshments; sunscreen

8. Kayaking

For a more strenuous version of the idea above, try pairing people off for a kayak event. You’ll need a body of water like a small lake or a river, and kayaks and paddles for everyone. Many bodies of water have rental companies nearby that offer paddleboards, kayaks, and other water toys. Find one and see if you can get a group rate for multiple kayaks. Use two-seater kayaks so that people can go off with a partner (no one should be alone). Just like above, you may also want to include sunscreen and water shoes for extra comfort. Communication is key, so this is a great exercise for increasing collaboration and problem-solving. For more communication games, browse our list of activities. 

What you’ll need: Enough kayaks and paddles for everyone; life jackets or other floatation devices; refreshments

Studio-specific activities

9. Indoor cycling

For a more involved workout, try a spinning class or other guided bicycle class. Many studios have spaces specifically for bicycling, so you can either sign up for a class or see if you can rent the space. Typically, an instructor will guide a group through a series of high-intensity moves that test strength and endurance. It can be harder to find “beginner” spin classes. Because it tends to be more of a cardio event, spinning or cycling classes should only be taken by people who are relatively physically fit already.

What you’ll need: A cycling studio (register for class)

10. Zumba

A dance activity that consists of sixteen basic steps, Zumba took the world by storm several years ago and hasn’t weaned in popularity. This workout is a cardio and aerobic style, but it’s easy to modify to be less strenuous. Set to upbeat Latin music, this is the perfect activity for getting everyone energized and getting lots of laughs. You’ll probably have better luck signing up for a class with a certified instructor, but you could also find a class online and broadcast to your group. This workout is great for larger groups since all you really need is a big open space. For more team building activities for large groups, make sure to follow our blog. 

What you’ll need: Studio space; instructor; music

11. Pilates

In this workout, attendees will perform a series of exercises designed to strengthen their core and improve balance. By taking pilates as a team, you can encourage each other to get stronger and have fun at the same time. Again, it’s best to go to a real pilates studio that has the proper machines and equipment, but you can find guided classes on YouTube if you’re on a budget. 

What you'll need: A pilates studio; instructor; yoga mats; medicine balls

12. Weight training

If you have a team who wants to gain a little muscle, then a weight workout is ideal. The best way to do this is to sign up for a group membership at a gym, and agree on times to meet. You might want to set a regimen like 3 days per week for 30 minutes. Then have everyone attend together and encourage and push each other. It’s a great way to hold each other accountable while making important strides toward a healthier lifestyle. Note: training with weights without proper instruction or supervision can be dangerous. It’s important to make sure that everyone is properly trained and comfortable using the equipment before getting started. 

What you’ll need: Gym with weights (membership)

Ideas for virtual teams 

13. Running club

If your team is scattered but all share a health or wellness goal, then having a running club is ideal. Have everyone who is interested sign up for the club and then set a schedule for checking in. You can use an app like GoJoe or Pacer to set up challenges and track progress with a group. For added fun, pick a few incentives or prizes to keep people motivated. If you want, you can announce a winner at the end - or you can just let fun together be its own reward. 

What you’ll need: Running shoes; app for tracking running progress; potential prizes

14. Online fitness class

Virtual workout classes have become popular with people across all fitness levels. If you have a team that’s spread out, set times to have everyone log on to the same class together. There are classes of nearly every type to choose from - browse this list of the 17 best online workout classes for groups. 

What you’ll need: Subscription to online class or portal

15. Dance class

Similar to the workout class mentioned above, you can find a virtual dance class to really get your team moving. Choose one and then have your group log in from wherever they are. Perform a search online to discover your options. There are plenty of free classes on YouTube, or you can set up a subscription with a larger service. If you plan to make this a weekly event, you might be better off setting up such a subscription and having people provide input on which class they’d like to try next. 

What you’ll need: Subscription to online class or portal

16. Step competition

Tracking steps has become an important part of overall health and wellness. Many people use Apple watches or other devices to see how many steps they take in one day, and try to challenge themselves to take more steps over time. You can make this a fun group activity by setting up challenges amongst your team. See who can take the most steps in one day, or one week, or try setting up goals like 1,500 steps in one day. Schedule check-ins so that everyone can share their progress. Again, there are plenty of apps that you can use for this purpose, such as Strive or Social Steps

What you’ll need: Device for tracking steps; platform for entering steps individually (app); potential prizes 

Keep the fun going

Just which workout idea you choose will depend on your unique needs and the makeup of your team. Whether you hit a gym or gather everyone online, getting physical as a team can be a powerful part of building trust, collaboration, and morale.

If you’ve planned a company event or other team-building retreat, why not make one of these workouts a part of the plan? An effective team-building retreat has a mix of activities such as educational, collaborative, and physical.

Do you need help planning the optimal retreat? Reach out to Surf Office.
We can help you to plan and execute an impactful event that gets everyone motivated and moving.

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