Ask any behavioural psychologist about the importance of communities and they’ll tell you they’re not just important – they’re fundamental to our health, our happiness and our society. Humans are sociable animals and have an innate need to feel part of a community. Fitness is no different.
We’ve seen community driven fitness evolve over the years. Group exercise grew in popularity from early beginnings in the 1980’s. Weight loss groups such as weight watchers have been popular for decades. Community support and motivation is hugely powerful – there’s a sense of public shame if we don’t keep up with our friends and other members of the community.
Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with, which is true. If the people in your fitness world are kicking ass and working hard, you’re going to be the same!
Friendships also help to keep fitness communities together. Shared suffering through a workout, shared motivation when things get tough and the shared reward at the end of session are binding to a group.
Community Center Gym Exercise Classes
CrossFit were the first to introduce the group exercise mentality to a gym setting. Partner workouts, competitive workouts, semi-private sessions, group coached gym classes (rather than choreographed exercise) and the like led a wave of change in fitness. It was now possible to go to a gym and do a traditional workout, at a high intensity in a group setting.
You hadn’t joined a ‘gym’, you’d joined a ‘box’. It was more than a gym it was a community. You’d belong somewhere – you weren’t a number, you were a member. Someone who had friends at a box, someone who had roots there and a reason to stay.
The knock on of this was huge and it forced a change in the way gyms started to operate. Now instead of going bigger and bigger, you’ll notice that gyms are more about the community driven fitness aspect of what they do. They’re emphasising relationships with members over their number of members.
Benefits of Community Driven Fitness
Here’s the interesting thing when it comes to these kinds of facilities – they benefit the member more than being in a standard commercial gym. The average workout intensity is higher and the average length of a membership is longer. There’s a couple of reasons for this…
- In a group class, you’re more likely to work as hard as the group. It’s an in-built competitiveness in us. Ever noticed you row faster when someone is on the rower next to you?! Also, you don’t want to be the person not putting in the same effort as the others.
- If you have friends in a gym, you’re less likely to leave it. By staying a member for longer and going to more sessions, your fitness naturally improves. Frequency and intensity of the workouts is key to fitness improvements.
The new wave of community driven fitness, whether that’s at a CrossFit box, a bootcamp, a group exercise class or even a semi-private personal training group is here to stay. As a member, you’ll benefit from riding the wave too!
Fitness is changing from a solo activity to a community activity – be a part of it!