I prefer to train alone. I used to get to quite a lot, but it is very rare that there isn't at least one other person in there these days. In fact these days I can find it a bit hard to even find a safe space to train because it is so crowded.
For me... Olympic Lifting is teaching me how to move. I try and focus all my attention on moving correctly. I'm quite a self-conscious person by nature and find it hard to tune out others. When other people are around I think I start seeing myself as I think they are seeing me, or something like that, rather than just being in the moment and feeling the movement. I also feel self conscious about practicing certain movements... Bouncing around in a squat or really working my lumbar arch or trying to pry my hips or whatever.
I've noticed that quite a few other people seem to get something out of training with others. Squats in particular. Other people yelling at them helps them move the weight. For me... What helps me move the weight the most is me being able to yell. I lose myself at some point and all there is is sheer bloodymindedness and one hell of a roar. I feel self conscious about that when other people are around and I can't find that space. I'm still finding my voice / the right attitude. Don't quite pull it off mostly. End up with a bit of a strangled squarp and I'm well aware it sounds ridiculous and is very ineffectual at moving the weights. I suppose I'll need to learn to train with others at some point...
Sometimes the gym atmosphere can be pretty cool when there are a bunch of people all doing their own thing. Couple guys in the squat racks... Someone on the bench... A couple people deadlifting or whatever... Everyone has their i-pod blasting and is mostly focused on what they are doing... But some kind of turn taking is taking place and just seeing each other person in the zone working with intensity can be motivating and helpful. Each person taking some kind of pleasure or pride in other peoples successes. Quietly, though. Maybe it is when I feel that I have personal space that isn't being invaded upon. Maybe that others are aware that I feel self-conscious when they are around so they back off in some way... Something... I'm not sure.
I expect it is a bit different for me because I am a girl and I hardly ever see other girls training. I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable being spotted on squats... Other people yelling at me shifts my attention away from the bar... I'm aware of the sexualized environment... I know some guys really want me to be distracted by them and they purposely try and distract me. I don't know. At the end of the day I guess I think it should be just me and the bar. Nothing else. That is the way I want it to be, I guess.