Find your fitness tribe

by Ryan Wagner

We live in exciting times. Why? Because there is a flavor for everyone these days. Twenty years ago, there were only a few dozen brands of coffee. Today there are thousands. There’s a specialty for just about everything. Fitness is no different. And yet a lot of people have a difficult time getting into fitness. This may not be you, but it’s probably someone you know. Or maybe it is you in a way. Perhaps there’s a particular flavor of fitness and recreation that you’ve always wanted to try, but just haven’t yet. Regardless, I think it’s certainly worth your time to find your fitness tribe.

Of all the wonderful reasons there are for having so many different options in the world of fitness, there is one disadvantage. Of the varying branches of fitness, the ones that are the most extreme and shocking in their demand of strength, skill, and iron will, seem to get the most exposure in the media.

The image of a very buff guy bent over throwing his guts up may make for a good story in the news, and even attract some like-minded masochists, but it certainly doesn’t look like fitness to me. It’s tempting to reason that in order to be fit – and to be fit in the way that society apparently wants us to be – that we have to throw our lunch up every other workout. Consequently, if you were looking for a reason that proves fitness isn’t for you, well, there you have it, right?

But let’s be clear. Fitness is movement. That’s all. It’s just how we move our bodies. And there are plenty of expressions of this movement that you can chose from: Yoga, pilates, group personal training, class-based fitness, acroyoga, swimming, rollerblading, team sports, walking, hiking, climbing, etc.

I’m sure at least one of those triggered something positive for you. Maybe it was a sport you played in school. Or something that you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe even something that you’ve never even thought of before now.

The point is, there’s a group of people out there that are just like you. They may be at different stages in their fitness lives, but nevertheless, they have something in common with you. That’s your tribe. So far I’ve been talking about finding a genre of fitness that’s presumably filled with members that become your adopted tribe. But let’s downsize our thinking just a little. Let’s take a look at the people that are already around you. The folks in your office. Maybe it’s the barista that you have a good rapport with. Or the friends and coworkers of your significant other. Take a moment and think about your extended network. Who exercises? Who work outs regularly? Who is a self described fitness person?

I want to stress that I’m not trying to trick you into finding a role model or a mentor. Rather, I want to help you find a gym buddy that you already know. Even if you only go to the gym with this person just once, it was probably worth it.

If you are an aspiring lifter, seek one out. It doesn’t matter if they are a bodybuilder or a newb, so long as they regularly hit the gym and lift weights, they are ahead of you on the fitness continuum and can therefore be an asset to you.

And be honest with them. Be clear with your intentions. If you’re not looking for any guidance or coaching, say so. Odds are, that lifter friend was in a position just like yours once upon a time. I know I was. Back in college, the guys and I would go to the gym every evening. My roommates Brian, Jeff and I were a tribe. We would start getting ourselves ready around the same time and shout down the hall to one another to get moving. And if we didn’t, well, we were left behind. We had a schedule, and each one of us made sure that we were ready to go.

But even if your tribe is a la carte, so to speak, and ever changing, this support system of fitness friends can still be an invaluable asset. Think about the random people you meet on a plane when you travel. When you have a good conversation with someone seated beside you, you’re always happy afterwards that you said hello.

I think people are best when they are connected. Whether it’s bonding over your favorite yoga class or the beers after your Crossfit workout, finding like-minded fitness travelers is a great asset.

If your level of fitness isn’t quite what you want it to be, I think you should consider putting some thought into finding a fitness tribe. You’ll meet some new people, get in better shape, and have a good time. There are so many options out there today that I’m sure there’s a good fit for you!

By Ryan Wagner

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