I used to do all of my fitness solo. This was in part to not knowing anyone who was interested in exercise and being concerned about others being too fit or too unfit to be a suitable partner while I was training. Regular group exercise (outside a gym environment) did not come to me until I joined Always Running in college. Having a group of people expecting my presence made a radical difference in my consistency, progress, and motivation. I formed lasting friendships, shared resources and experiences, and had great adventures on the trails with others. I could get all geeky about anatomy, sweat, exercise, and running shoes and they would respond with equal enthusiasm. Sharing successes and setbacks were received with understanding and encouragement. My family doesn’t quite get what it means to qualify for Boston, but my running buddies sure do!
Exercising with others is a powerful way to develop a foundation of support for your fitness goals. Long after your trainer has switched gyms or retired, your exercise buddy will be there to share in your sweat, boost you up after defeat, and cheer you to the finish line.
The internet has allowed for an abundance of options in finding others with similar goals, exercise availability, and support. You can connect locally and find someone to drag you out of bed (or drag out of bed) for a morning hike every Saturday or connect virtually with someone across the country who has the same desire to lower his cholesterol by 50 points or complete a race a month for the next year. Below are some great resources to check out.
- Meet-up.com: Meet-up is a great source for free activities of all kinds – hiking, cycling, triathlete training, tennis, running, and more! Search for your desired activity and attend an outing in your area.
- SparkPeople: Spark People has launched regional groups for fitness and nutrition goal support. It is also a great resource for nutrition and exercise information and a place to keep track of your personal goals.
- Post a request on your gym bulletin board for someone to lift weights or do cardio with.Â If you enjoy each other’s company, outdoor off-site activities can be arranged.
- Exercisefriends.com: a site specifically for finding an exercise partner by age, activity, and location.
- Speak up in your existing class or group – always see the same people in your YogaÂ or Spin class? Strike up a conversation and make a friendship. People are often very excited to connect with others.
- Visit your local running store or athletic store and ask about group activities. Road Runner Sports and other local running shoe stores often host running groups. Title Nine has been known to hold rowing groups, hiking groups, and women’s soccer groups. Lululemon often holds yoga in the store during off hours. Visit your local fitness store and inquire about what is available, or be pro-active and start one with their support!
Have you utilized any of the above resources or found any others which have worked well for you? Comment below on where you have gone for extra support and how it has helped you out!