The importance of friends and fitness
The truth is, some of us are loners and some of us are social butterflies, but all of us possess a need to belong to a greater community—to be engaged with friendships. As kids, most of us didn’t just play in the woods by ourselves or run through the sprinklers alone. Whenever we could, we found friends to do these things with because humans have a universal need to be involved with other humans. This need applies to our workouts too. So, whatever your chosen fitness pursuit (running, walking, swimming, Zumba, etc.), be sure to find friends or make friends to do it with.
Here are a few specific ways you can make community and friendships a part of your fitness pursuits:
- Join a group by taking a yoga, spin, or Zumba class, or try out a masters swim team, or join your local running club—whatever—and either make some new friends or take some old ones along with you. In any case, focus on the fun you have with those friends as much as you do on the activity itself.
- If you exercise at home on your own, purchase a second piece of equipment (If you own a treadmill, for example, get an elliptical too.) and get your spouse or a buddy to go at it with you. This will allow you to add both a little variety and some camaraderie to your fitness pursuits. Again, the key is to focus on the relationship and the interactions with other people as much as you do the exercise.
- Try using a personal trainer or coach. Many people say that, in addition to benefiting from the knowledge and instruction of a personal trainer or coach, they are also motivated by their relationships with their trainers. It’s a little like being a kid and promising to meet your buddy down the road for a game of tag—except the trainer or coach is always it, and you typically just get chased from one machine or workout to the next.
- Remember that you don’t have to do everything with others. The need for community as related to fitness pursuits is, I believe, universal, but we each differ in the degree to which we need it. I still enjoy running alone some mornings and just having that time to myself, but I wouldn’t trade my pub runs with my firends from FITniche for anything. I simply have too much fun with my friends there to pass it up if I can help it.
In closing, keep in mind that the people with whom we surround ourselves in our lives bend us in directions we’re often not even aware of. Seeking out and surrounding yourself with other people who value their fitness and wellbeing ensures that at least a portion of your environment is filled with people trying to bend you in the same direction you want to go.
Yours in Fitness and in Health!