How to make your fitness journey a more social one
The path to fitness is one that many people travel along, but it’s not a journey that everyone enjoys. It’s tough training your body to be at its physical best, especially if you go at it alone. That’s why it’s so important to find ways of making fitness more social and enjoyable.
Of course, our social interactions are currently very limited due to lockdown requirements. But COVID-19 transmission rates and hospital admissions are down, and the vaccination programme has been extremely successful, so there is hope that it will not be too long before restrictions begin to be lifted. And as most of us have been far too inactive during lockdown, and possibly even put on a few extra pounds, now is the time to start making plans for resuming your fitness journey and making it more social and enjoyable.
Having others around can help to motivate you during those difficult moments, especially if they are on a similar journey to you. Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to make your fitness experience more social, though. That’s what this article is for.
Walk with friends
Convincing friends to exercise with you can be tricky if they’re not fitness-minded people. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get them out of the house and working out with you. You just need to find an activity that’s not going to scare them away.
Why not try walking? It’s easy for people to walk and talk, so this is a great way to catch up with friends while still exercising.
This might seem like too simple an activity to really do much for you, but it does actually have quite a few health benefits. Plus, it’s an excellent exercise to take up on rest days, so you can stay active without pushing your body too hard. After all, you can’t take your fitness to the max every day, or you’ll do yourself an injury.
If the idea of walking and talking appeals but you don’t know anyone who would like to join you, there are various groups across the country such as the Ramblers. You can also search for all rambling and walking clubs or associations via the UK Rambling Clubs website.
If you are new to walking and are not very fit, a good starting place may be a Health Walk with a trained leader. You will be walking with other people who are perhaps not very fit or have specific health conditions, so you will not feel under pressure to ‘keep up.’ This is also a great way to meet new friends. If you live in Essex, you can find a group via our Health Walks Events Calendar. Alternatively, check out the Walking for Health website for health walk schemes across the UK.
Join a team
If you’re a sports fan, chances are there are a few team activities out there that may appeal to you. Whether you’re into football, rugby, hockey, or something else, most areas have local teams that are always welcoming new members.
Don’t feel that you need to be in prime condition to join a team. Many clubs have teams at all levels and while some may be quite competitive, others are more focussed on camaraderie and the social side of team sports which often includes social events outside of games and training, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to develop those friendships. The fact that your teammates share your interest in fitness will also be a big help. Just be careful you do not undo all the good work of your fitness activities by engaging in an excess of alcoholic imbibing when the training is over!
Obviously, given that these sports rely on people working together to win, it’s a brilliant way to combine exercise with socialising. You will be amazed at how quickly you start to gel with your teammates, even if you’re a bit of an introvert.
You might be very surprised at the opportunities available, even if you haven’t done any sport for years. For example, if you love football but think you would be struggling after 5-minutes on the pitch, how about Walking Football which allows you to play the game at a pace that works for you – and provides that all-important element of making fitness more social. The Walking Football Association provides a list of Walking Football clubs and Walking Football sessions across the country.
Try a Bootcamp
For an intense fitness experience that’s bound to get you socialising, it’s worth trying out a Bootcamp. This may not seem like the best place to form friendships but, for example, this Bootcamp at Jesmond Gyms has a real focus on the social aspect of exercise. ODFC Fitness, which manages Jesmond Gyms, explains:
The training you get is loosely based on military fitness. But, don’t worry. You don’t have to be military-fit to join our workouts.
ODFC is more about fun and being social to get fit. Members enjoy being part of a group, and we encourage everyone, no matter their ability or level.
Given that members are made to work in groups during Bootcamps, getting to know the people around you is not difficult. Before long, you should develop a good bond with these fellow fitness enthusiasts as you all push your bodies to their limits.
The exercises at Bootcamps are tough but manageable, so no matter whether you’re new to this or a seasoned pro, the instructors and classmates alike will help you reach your goal.
Take up dancing
If you want an activity that’s a good workout while still heavy on socialisation, you may want to take up dancing. Unless you have two left feet, you are bound to find a style that suits you, whether that be the waltz, the salsa, or something more modern. Dancing really can be a fun way to fitness.
While it can be intimidating to go to a dance class alone, you’ll soon get into the swing of things after a few sessions. It helps that people tend to have a lot of fun here, which is why it’s so good for socialising. Plus, if you’re learning to dance something that requires a second party, then you may find yourself being coupled up with strangers. What better way to get to know someone than to be their partner on the dancefloor?
Looking for a bit of inspiration? Do check out the video below.
Nellia and Dietmar Ehrentraut were 64 and 70 respectively when this jive video was taken. They are so happy and full of life – and so incredibly fit!
Of course, jiving at that level is not for beginners, but certainly something to aspire to, is it not?
Embrace environmental volunteering
You don’t always have to run a mile or spend half an hour lifting weights if you want to make progress with your fitness journey. It is possible to be active in ways that are not conventional exercises, such as gardening or volunteering at some of our wonderful wildlife nature reserves across the country.
Gardening is excellent for your health and fitness, as you’ll know if you’ve ever spent an afternoon digging up flowerbeds and pulling weeds. It can be made social, too, if you take it to the next level and try volunteering.
There are plenty of projects across the country that aim to improve the UK’s environment through planting trees, creating ponds, etc. Get involved with one of these projects, and you will not only do good for the planet, but you will also get in plenty of exercise and meet some likeminded individuals too. Many of these opportunities, such as volunteering at the Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves, are featured in our Volunteering Events section
Your fitness journey does not have to be lonely if you do not want it to be. There is so much you can do to lose weight, gain muscle, and generally embrace exercise while still creating bonds with other people. Hopefully, this article has shown you that and given you some inspiration for how to make your fitness journey a more social one.