Thriving Together Well-Being Weekly: Finding Community in Fitness

by Becky Demus, Assistant Director of Fitness for Mason Recreation

Thriving Together Well-Being Weekly: Finding Community in Fitness

“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” – Brené Brown

This edition was written by Becky Demus, the Assistant Director of Fitness for Mason Recreation. Becky is a certified Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Health Coach. She earned her Masters of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Social Scientific Perspectives.

When I think of the word “community”, I think of a place where I feel welcome – a place that makes me feel good inside. A fitness community will make you look forward to your workout of choice. When I think of my fitness community, I think of my hometown running friends whom I read about in a weekly e-mail or my Mason Recreation coworkers and participants in our group fitness classes.

So why is it important to find a fitness community that you can belong to? Enjoying your mode of exercise is key to physical activity adherence. And, finding a physical activity you can adhere to is the key to being able to stay physically active for your whole life. Plus, if you have exercise partners within a community, you have built-in accountability. Let’s take a look at the different fitness communities available to the Mason community.

Your community might be Mason Recreation’s AFC or RAC fitness centers. Students can feel welcome by having common areas to hang out or play a game of ping pong at the RAC, or they can enjoy a group fitness class like cycling at the AFC. Perhaps you like lifting weights with friends at a certain time. If you enjoy playing a sport, check out one of Mason Rec’s intramural leagues on campus.

Now that the fitness world is going virtual as well, you can find your community through Mason Recreation’s virtual fitness classes held on Zoom. If you like fitness on demand but still like the accountability of an instructor, you can access Mason BurnAlong for free with your GMU net ID and take classes from hundreds of instructors. You can even take classes with other participants at the same time. Mason Recreation has many different virtual and in-person classes a week. The great thing about group fitness is that you make friends with participants and hold one another accountable. To this day, I am still in touch with my participants from 10 years ago!

Being able to interact with others while working out is fun for certain people. Maybe you have one workout buddy, or a personal trainer. Mason has dozens of activity-based groups and club sports, like: Powerlifting Club, Running Club, Taekwondo Club, Quidditch Club, and even Club Trap and Skeet. You can even find fitness groups on meetup.com where you can search within the same age groups or with similar interests in fitness activities as you.

For those who are competitive, you can participate in Mason Recreation’s fitness challenge of the month. Sign up for a local competition or a virtual race like Mason Recreation’s Virtual 5K and train with friends who will help motivate you. You can even compete with others and cheer on friends on strava.com. Or, you can sign up for a in-person competition once those opportunities return. Many people feel even more motivated when working together with their community toward a common goal. “Girls on the Run” promotes running for female youth. “Back on My Feet” is a running group that combats homelessness. You can even download the Charity Miles app on your phone and raise money for a charity of your choice with every mile you walk or run.

Something the fitness community is proudly striving to do is promote inclusivity and diversity of fitness instructors and participants.  Additionally, there are groups for BIPOC that encourage fitness in minority populations, like Black Girls Run and Black Boys Om. There are running clubs for LGBTQ+ runners and walkers, like the Front Runners. There is a community for everyone. If you cannot find one, start your own!

In closing, it is important to note that researcher Brené Brown states that those who have a “sense of true belonging are people who also have the courage to stand alone when called to do that.” So, if you prefer to stand alone in your fitness practices, or if you still have not found your fitness community, the best thing you can do is keep being your authentic self.

Research

Exercise Adherence: Translating the Evidence on Barriers and Facilitators into Practice” report
Rising Strong book by Brené Brown


Additional Resources

Mason Recreation’s Club Sports Teams
Fitness Groups on Mason 360
Mason Recreation’s Group Fitness Classes
Black Boys Om Academy
Black Girls Run
International Front Runners
Back on My Feet
Girls on the Run