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How to find an online fitness community

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  June 26, 2013 12:32 PM

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Confession: A large reason I've been able to stick to my fitness routine is due to friends.

While that may not sound shocking, to me it is.

By nature I'm an extremely extroverted person: I like to meet new people, I like to hear people's life stories, I would make friends with a blade of grass if I thought I'd get anything out of it.

That said, making fitness a social endeavor has been wildly helpful to me because as a mom who works full time I have to pack many things in to what seems like very few minutes of time to myself.

Take running. I love to run (duh, right?) But I also love to see my friends and family. In order for me to not feel like I'm missing key family time, I decided I needed to combine friend and fitness time. Mark this revelation as reason 946 under "why running dates are awesome."

With me so far? I bet you are. And I bet right about now is when you are saying outloud: "That's great for you, Elizabeth, but I don't run." Or "I run, but I don't know anyone else who does."

Not all of my friends run. Actually a large percentage of them have told me they think what I do is crazy. So, I had to find people who run. Or want to run. With me.

Here's where I found them:

Clubs
Not the kind of club where you pay a cover charge to listen to bad music and drink a $12 beer... the kind of club that meets weekly or monthly to DO something. Something like running. Or swimming. Biking. Triathlons. Walking. Heck, this quick search even turned up a meetup for badminton and frisbee. If someone does it for fun/fitness chances are good there's a group for it. Read bulletin boards at sandwich shops and local libraries, find out what groups the YMCA has going. You can find these people -- trust me they are out there.

Regular routes
People are creatures of habit, and so if you're anything like me, you likely have some favorite and regular routes you do at least a few times a week. If you go at the same time and same day each week I'd be willing to be you'll start seeing the same cast of characters regularly if your route isn't completely isolated from everything and everyone. Take my Sunday morning running buddy for example: She and I passed each other with a smile and wave each Sunday morning around 10 am -- she was headed one direction and I the other. After the fourth smile and nod I stopped her and said asked if she'd ever like company since we were doing the same route, just in reverse directions. The worst that could have happened was that she would say no.

Online
Facebook searches, Twitter searches, Google groups, Meetups, Discussion forums... You name it. If you just put in a little time and really refine your searching you will be able to find people with interests similar to yours. It's kind of like trying to find a date: You can just expect people to come to you, sometimes you have to make the effort and walk across the bar to at least say hello first. You may feel awkward and weird but get over yourself because everyone feels awkward and weird. A word of caution though, as a woman, I always bring a friend I know and trust to meet up with running buddies I don't know and have my phone on me and go to a highly populated area for our first run.

The gym
Free-weight dude. Elliptical lady. Treadmill trekker. If you go to a gym, much like running a regular route, I bet you see the same folks on the same types of equipment during the same hours that you go to the gym. You know their little routines and what they like to do even though you may not have thought about it before. Me? I have a favorite treadmill (for the days in the winter it was too icy to run my regular route). If you see someone always doing the same things talk to them! One woman at my gym swims every single day, and when I noticed this I struck up a conversation with her explaining that I only swim certain days. We've struck up a friendship and now I have an awesome person to share a lane with (which, if you're a swimmer you know sharing a lane with someone with terrible habits can be workout-killing).

Work
#ProjectAdam started because I found out Adam12 was a runner, and Adam Salsman wanted to get back in to it. In fact, the very first 5K I ran, I ran with a co-worker I affectionately have dubbed my "work husband." I now have a reliable duo of friends who will race with me, or alert me to races we should try. Even if we don't do all the same races, it's nice to be able to talk about something other than work with coworkers. That guy who commutes regularly on his bike? I bet he'd be willing to go for a long bike ride with you if you just ask.

Where have you found your fitness friends?

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.

CONTRIBUTORS

Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at Boston.com. She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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