Sounds too good to be true, right? But in all honesty, it is possible. Exercise is much more fun when we can make it a social event – and if food is involved, so much the better.
Here are 4 ways to make new friends and get fit, simultaneously:
For me, finding a group of bike lovers was a life changer. I recently moved to FL and didn’t know a soul. I moved into an established neighborhood where people were busy with their own lives. Many seemed to be older and didn’t venture outside too often.
Unfortunately, the neighbors on either side of me weren’t very welcoming. For months I was busy getting the new house set up and learning where everything was in my new neighborhood. It was quite lonely during this period. I missed my friends and family back home and wondered why I had moved.
Since I love bike riding, I decided to give a group ride a chance. Through a search on the Internet, I found a bike group and made the initial contact. I learned when they meet and the location.
At the day of the appointed ride, I was quite apprehensive. Would I be able to keep up? Would I feel out of place? I didn’t know anyone in this new group. (See recent post on 5 Myths about Group Bike Rides)
Turns out, all my fears were unfounded. The group was friendly and welcoming, and luckily, with a bit of effort, I was able to keep up. Although the group has been riding together for many years, they are quite welcoming to new members.
The best part is that after the ride, there’s always lunch at a local restaurant. This gave me a chance to further interact with everyone as well as learn about the area and local events. Besides the rides, we’ve met to go to the movies, and I even had them over for a cookout at my house.
The group has been my lifeline, and I look forward to each ride and lunch, and meeting new people. The group also introduced me to my new ride – a recumbent trike.
My group rides are beneficial in another way as well. Together, we often ride longer distances than I would on my own. With the many breaks involved, I’m able to keep up and get fit.
The funny thing is that I don’t generally consider myself a group person, but the dynamics change when you add physical activity.
To find out about rides in your area, just search online, join a cycling Facebook group or ask your local bike shop for recommendations.
My friend Joyce has been a member of a kick-boxing class for over 10 years. This tribe of women has become her best support group. The class meets three times a week, and these women and the instructor have become close friends.
They celebrate each other’s birthdays, special events and often meet for lunch or drinks. The instructor even ended up being the driver when Joyce needed surgery. Other people in Joyce’s life have learned never to schedule any other event for Joyce on her designated boxing class nights.
Joyce admitted it did take a while for the group to start meeting socially, but it has become an important part of her life. Although the workout is quite intense, Joyce actually looks forward to the classes. I also know of someone who felt the same way about her swimming class at a local YMCA.
There are many classes to try, including yoga, spinning, weight classes, etc. Sports and recreation departments often offer inexpensive classes for residents. What a great way to get fit!
Whereas exercise on your own can become a grind, with a group to provide distraction and support, it can almost become fun. The best part is, you can try a variety of classes and even work on cross-training. Check out your local YMCA, recreation department or local gym to find out more offerings in your area.
For a while before I moved, I was in a hiking Meetup group. Again, the first time I went, I was a bit apprehensive. The good thing about Meetup groups, though, is you can check out the people in the group beforehand to see if their interests and goals are similar to yours.
Once you join, you can often see past trips the group has done along with pictures. You’ll be able to get a preliminary idea as to whether this group is for you. Just go to Meetup.com and put in your zip code. An assortment of clubs will pop up that may interest you.
I had tried two different hiking groups. One was quite intense, very fast and often hiked harder trails than I enjoyed. I later found a much friendlier, slower group where the hikes were much more enjoyable. Again, these meetups often involved a social after-activity which you may or may not attend.
Another fun way to get fit and make new friends is to try a fitness vacation. There are a number of vacations and activities you can choose from, including biking, hiking and kayaking.
How refreshing it is to come back from a vacation feeling fit and full of energy, rather than lethargic and possibly a few pounds heavier. It’s also a great way to meet others with the same interests.
A woman I met recently came back from a Holland barge trip where a few of the days included biking around the country. She does this trip solo and often meets lots of interesting people. She enjoys it so much that this was the third trip she has done.
You may want to search online or even visit your travel agent who may have more experience with the various group fitness options.
Why not choose an option, get fit, have fun and make new friends!
Have you tried any fun ways to get fit? What has been your experience? Do you frequent a group exercise gathering? Let’s exchange experiences and ideas!