By Emily Sabbah
If you're anything like me, waking up an extra 30 minutes early to drive to the gym and work out with other people sounds downright terrible. Sure, I love moving my body and feeling strong. And, in the right circumstances, I even like people! But the sleep-loving, introverted parts of me would much, MUCH rather catch an extra half hour of sleep. And I know that for many people, going to a gym in person just isn’t really an option due to childcare needs, finances, or the pandemic!
So, for the past 5 years I've invested in home workout equipment and done some stellar programs in my living room. But along the way, I realized a major aspect of my fitness journey that has been lacking: community. Exercise is wonderful for our bodies, but social connection is equally as important. Positive social connections can boost our mood, provide motivation, and hold us accountable for goals. With how valuable community is in fitness, how can we access those great benefits without sacrificing the convenience of home workouts?
Here are a few ways I've found to develop community even though I don't belong to a gym.
1. Find a Virtual Workout Buddy
One of my best friends and I do the same workout every day... at our own homes! We both follow the same trainer who posts daily workouts on YouTube- so even though we are working out separately, we can still chat and check in with each other about today's WOD. It's so fun to check in with each other after a particularly intense leg day or celebrate being able to go up in weight. Plus, knowing we are going to talk about it every so often leads to some great accountability!
2. Walk With a Friend
The other major part of my daily fitness is taking a walk. I try to break up the day and take a midday walk with my dog and kiddo. These can be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, but it's always a nice way to break up the day. And I've also found that it's a great way to get some social time in! Because I'm so consistent about walking, friends and neighbors often comment about seeing me, and talk about how they want to start taking walks too! It has become a great icebreaker, and it's super easy to invite someone to walk and chat with me. I've made many walking friends this way! And when I don't have a walking buddy, it's a great time to listen to an audiobook or podcast, or chat on the phone with a friend who doesn't live close by.
3. Join an Activity Challenge
Before I owned a fitness tracker, I thought I was killing it on steps. But after doing a few challenges with friends I realized I could be moving a LOT more than I am! Besides the motivation to get my steps in, I've found step challenges to be a great way to connect and chat with people who have similar fitness goals. Some of our group challenges have turned into amazing friendships where we encourage each other, give advice, and even help each other through hard times.
4. Sign Up for Events
This one is a little more out of my comfort zone, but I'm excited to try it this year! A friend invited me to do the Bubble Run with her, and I can't wait! It's fun to have something on the calendar to look forward to. Even though we're not training "together," it is fun to be able to check-in with each other on our training. Having a scheduled event that you're planning to do together provides lots of opportunities to connect and motivate one another.
What ways have you found to create a fitness community?
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