As we continue to recover from years of isolation, a whole bunch of us are ready to feel like we belong to a community once again. Experts much smarter than me refer to this as a sense of belonging as social identity. Belonging to a community offers a sense of connectedness, which is important to our mental health.
There are of course exceptions. Belonging to a community that emphasizes day drinking Monday-Friday as soon as the bar opens is probably NOT going to improve your mental health and is almost certain to destroy your physical health. On the other hand, if you crave occasional rowdiness, competitiveness, and regularly getting together with the same people, joining a fitness community should help boost your sense of wellbeing, and support overall health.
So, which fitness group should you join? Here in SoCal, there are practically limitless options, one of which is bound to be perfect for your personality.
For example, even if you’re a quiet, introverted person, you can likely find community in Yoga or Pilates classes. If you’re a rowdy weekend-warrior type I suspect, you may love CrossFit. Adrenaline junkie? You might join a mountain biking troupe that does wild rides to other states on the weekend or try your hand at kitesurfing along the coast with some thrill seekers. If you’re super competitive, you can still find camaraderie in things like boot camps, or mud runs.
If you’re on the shy side, or prefer to keep your bubble small, even semi-private personal training group classes can give you a sense of community, without having to meet too many new people.
The point is, no matter your fitness level, or personality, we’re super lucky in SoCal to have so many communities to consider. There are few, if any places in the country that can compete with the sheer number of opportunities to improve both physical and mental health by joining a community. And those health benefits are nothing to scoff at. Here are some of the benefits of joining a fitness community that you can expect.
· Make new friends
· Find inspiration to work harder
· Feel accountable to your fitness
· Build self confidence
· Free spotting!
· Better cardiovascular health
· Improved muscle tone
· Better sleep at night
· Increased muscle mass
· Finally enjoy exercise (*kinda*)
· Lose weight
· Remain consistent
· Enjoy those magical endorphins
You don’t have to take my word for it. The research shows those who choose to exercise with others experience a greater sense of calm than those who choose to go it alone. Other studies point to more enjoyment of exercise when done with others.
So, if you’re ready to venture back out into the world, joining a fitness community is a healthy way to spend your time. As a bonus, you’ll be in better physical shape, when, not if, another novel virus emerges.