Spread Your Wings – Find a Community That Expands Your Circle
Maggie Harlow, 48, owner of Sign-o-Rama who works out at Baptist Health/Milestone Wellness Center, says, “I often feel a sense of friendly competition as well as genuine total acceptance from the women (and men) in these classes. We often shout encouragement to each other mid-class if we see someone either going super strong or taking a break. It’s fun, and we are careful to only shout out to those we know enjoy being called out. My trainer stays in touch with me when I’m gone for long. Even if I fall off my routine, it’s easy to just step back in and feel welcomed, not shamed. I get a ton of ‘welcome backs’ when I step in the room.”
With so many exercise options available, choosing one can be confusing. Area fitness professionals advise to keep it fun and adventurous, trying everything of interest until you find what speaks to you. If you are nervous or curious about a particular class, the Internet is your friend. Do a search on what might be expected or even better, go observe a class in person and take a buddy. Practically every gym offers a free trial that can last from one week to a month. The most important thing is to gather your courage, show up, and try.
“The best thing about CrossFit is the community,” says JoEllyn McAtee, 32, co-owner of CrossFit Bluegrass. “And I’m not just saying that because it’s my business. This is a family and a team. We sweat, cry, stress, and hurt together. You actually make relationships that encourage, motivate, keep you accountable, and fill your cup emotionally when you leave. There is no age, status, political view, or fitness level that matters. Once the workout starts, the stresses of the world are forgotten.
“I see new relationships form with people that would have never crossed paths outside of our building, and that is the ‘social workout’ needed,” JoEllyn continues. “We need conversation. We need different perspectives and advice. We need a family that will help carry us through the highs and lows of the busy outside world, and we can accomplish all these things while we fitness.”
Jordan Rose Wiehebrink, 29, senior grad admissions officer at Bellarmine University and Pure Barre instructor, says, “My first Pure Barre class was difficult, unfamiliar, and overwhelming, but I remember walking out of that studio with a sense of strength and pride that I’d never experienced, and that feeling was exhilarating. Intimidation with any new experience is inevitable, but you have to be willing to take a chance and remember that the right fitness community won’t be laced with judgment.”
In a world where most are spending large chunks of time, earbuds in, heads down staring into some electronic device, it can be easy to forget the benefits of being social. Pushing oneself physically alongside others doing the same, sharing highs, lows, and encouragement is a great reminder that we’re supposed to be going through life together. The byproduct of this is reduced stress, a greater sense of confidence and of course, a new sense of community.
It’s January. The slate is clean. The opportunity to make this the year of your best self is present once again. Today’s social fitness options and benefits are unlimited. Which will you choose?
If you’re ready for a change that will improve your health and make you stronger in every way, sign up for our Best Body Challenge. Let us be your cheerleaders and read a couple of tips from Maggie Harlow’s sister about how to stick with your fitness regimen.