The benefits of group workouts are well known - being surrounded by other motivated participants, the variety of workouts, varying levels of difficulty, learning the right form, among others. Group exercises are soaring in popularity so much that many large brands are taking notice, and we're seeing more and more fitness communities. How do you find where you belong?
Find Where You Belong
First things first, a fitness community is more than a group exercise class. A community is defined as the "feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals." You can get your booty to a group fitness class 3 times a week and not feel like you're a part of it's community. Maybe this is the wrong fitness community for you (more on how to evaluate that later) or maybe you don't know what you're missing!
There are so many benefits to being a part of a fitness community, but the number one is accountability. Not only can the other members of your group provide you with the positive encouragement you need when you're in a slump, but they also can inspire you to work out more often, and harder! Bond with the members of your fitness community after a tough workout, share exercise tips, healthy habits, and nutritious recipes. Some fitness communities, like Strava's app for runners and cyclists, have online communities for at-home support and other additional online resources, as well.
Whether online or in-person, the connection with others in your fitness community is unique and inspiring, and something to strive for when evaluating which fitness community is best for you. Besides connection, there are a few other things to evaluate before joining a wellness program or fitness community.
Evaluating Fitness Communities
Figure out what kind of exercise you like.
It's important to figure out what kind of exercise you like the most (or maybe just what you hate!) before diving into a fitness community. If you hated running before, joining a running community may not be the answer. If you hate what you're doing, you will stop going. If you're unsure whether or not you'll enjoy running, spin, yoga, weightlifting, or Pilates, then we suggest using this time to explore! Take advantage of free classes and introductory specials at your local gym or fitness center, and use this time to experiment with different workout styles to find which one you like best. This is a great time to scope out studios and different communities, as well.
Identify your fitness community "vibe."
Before you join a community, you want to know the fitness culture that aligns with your values the most. What kind of instructors have you enjoyed in the past? Do you enjoy an instructor who explains the science behind the work out, which muscle groups you're working as you're working them? Do you like a mental health focus, such as a class focusing on the breath (such as barre or Pilates)? Do you prefer a fitness bootcamp, (similar to Piloxing Knockout)? Do you prefer to workout with others who are at the same skill level as yourself, or do you like surrounding yourself with more experienced athletes? Would you prefer to engage with others members in the class in person, outside of class, or online? Take the time to answer these questions for yourself to decide which kind of fitness community environment will work best for you.
Do your research.
After you've identified your preferred fitness community "vibe" it's time to research the fitness and wellness communities in your area. We suggest doing some social media "creeping" on the gyms, studios, and centers in addition to scoping out their website. Is engagement being encouraged, how do members interact with each other? Are their values being presented, and do they align with yours? Take a look at online reviews, as well. What's the retention rate? Are there more negative reviews, or positive ones? Really take the time to determine if this community is the right fit for you.
Step outside your comfort zone & keep going.
If you're looking to join a fitness community, odds are that simply attending a class or two at random isn't cutting it for you. You may have gotten bored, stopped going, or maybe you were missing the connection with your instructor and members of the class. It's important to remember that while a fitness community may be a better fit for you, it's always possible to have a bad class. One bad class doesn't mean the entire community isn't right for you. Sample a variety of classes and instructors within the community if possible, and keep going.
You won't get anything out of your fitness community if you don't allow yourself to step outside your comfort zone. It can be difficult to open up and feel comfortable with others while you're working out with a group of strangers! Remember that everyone is there for the same reason as you. Share your goals, make an effort to connect with others in the community, and you will see the benefits.
You will know you've found the right fitness and wellness community for you when you feel supported, encouraged, and challenged and are comfortable with your instructor and other class participants. A fitness community is wonderful for accountability, camaraderie, and can truly help you find your place in the fitness world.