The past 10 years have seen some amazing developments in sports and fitness for the everyday athlete. Endeavors that were previously reserved for professionals are regularly undertaken by school teachers, accountants, and web-designers. People with families, jobs, and responsibilities are completing IRONMANs, running 100 miles, scaling obstacles, and dead-lifting 3x their body weight. These physical accomplishments are truly remarkable.
What is perhaps even more significant are the communities that are being built around these activities. Every major city now hosts a collection of triathlon clubs, run groups, and CrossFit boxes. And with the advent of social media, people from around the world can easily connect and share their experiences and love for their sport. This sense of community is vital to our well-being and overall life satisfaction. Humans, after all, are pack animals and need authentic connection…and shared struggle/accomplishment is maybe the best way to build it. The New York Times published an article a few weeks ago that captures this concept very well.
If you’re already part of one or more of these communities, you know what I’m talking about. You have more close friends, feel better, do more fun stuff, and look better in a bathing suit. You have discovered something amazing and you want to everyone to know about it…just be careful not to scare off them off. What do I mean? Your friends, who’ve yet to join you, know what I mean. So for them, I submit:
Most athletic/fitness endeavors have (or at least appear to have) an extreme sub-culture. You see it in triathlon, ultra running, OCR, and of course CrossFit. We’ve all seen the pictures on Facebook…$5000 bikes, black toenails, scarred shins, ripped hands…your friends have run off and joined a cult. And while it seems to work for them, you’re not quite ready to drink the Kool-aid. I understand, but here’s the thing: you can’t let the weirdos (whom I’m chief among) scare you off. Too often, we base our opinions on the most visible (and extreme) examples and use that as an excuse not to try. The truth is, these communities are comprised almost entirely of sane, well-rounded people, just like you. Taking up a new, healthy activity does not require you to change your whole life…and you shouldn’t.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your health, have fun, and meet great people, there is a community out there for you. It’s perfectly OK to try a few out without making a big commitment. It’s also OK to be a part of more than one. Not sure where to start? Here are a few of my favorite places:
- Find a CrossFit affiliate near you
- Connect with a local Team RWB chapter
- Sign up for a GORUCK Challenge
In addition to these, there are countless local groups that meet up to do everything from running to mountain biking to kickball. Just pick an activity and type it into the Google machine (or try Reddit.com or MeetUp.com). I can’t encourage you strongly enough. I promise, you are not too old, too out-of-shape, or too busy to start investing your health and your community. We’re made to move, to play, and to connect. So please, take the first step and see for yourself.
We’d love to hear from you. What communities are you involved in? What has it done for your life?