The Community of Fitness

There are a lot of camps in the fitness world.  There are the lifters, the runners, the yogis, the crossfitters, the athletes, the extreme ethusiasts, etc. etc. etc.
Generally speaking, each tribe believes their method of training is superior.  That’s why they do it. To defend their craft, they kill the merits of others by stereotyping, badmouthing, and shouting from a place of narrow-mindedness.  It perpetuates a cycle of negativity, making it harder for those looking to try something new to get involved.  
The competitive nature of exercise further estranges the biggest, desperate, and most confused group there is : the non-exercisers.

In the age of the internet, no one walks into an endeavor blindly.  It’s too easy to investigate. Especially when finding success is on the line.  People want to know what something is like to determine whether they should try.  
There are plenty of opinions ready for convincing.
And plenty more swaying them to just stay at home.
There is a reason many non-exercisers believe people who lift or run or do yoga are elitist and douchy. They see it, and have felt/experienced judgement for not being like them.  There’s a weird, cult-like brotherhood that emerges when what we do melds into who we are
photo credit: wordswithlisbeth.com

Non-exercisers have one huge thing going for them: they can fully separate their self-worth from their body type.  They’ve had a lot of practice at it.  They’re probably just the person to share this perspective with people too far in, but the likelihood that the two will meet is slim to none.  (Except of course if they’re willing to exchanging cash for services).  The two communities need each other, and would thrive from exchange, but very few are willing to cross ‘enemy’ lines.  There’s too much threat to rip apart, and the defending group has far too many numbers on their side.

Safety can be felt with active pursuing, but camps only do the work of recruiting when they need to. It’s only when a team or league is low on numbers that they reach out to find other people.  Active community members don’t think much about people leaving because they’re completely disregarded when they do.  Out of sight, out of mind. Their camp is the best one ever, and, for the most part, they want to protect it, as is.

Imagine if fitness could be a utopian version of a college club fair.

It could be housed in the parking lots of surgical centers and hospitals.  Various versions of fitness could go to the need.  Nobody would knock down the other guys, and instead of pointing out flaws they would readily recite each other’s benefits.  The goal would be connecting people with what suits them best, not coming out with the most signatures and phone numbers.

In reality, as long as fitness remains business based, the welcome wagon will remain promotional. Just bells and whistles and slick marketing, set to lure in credit cards and annual commitments.

Having traditional options discredited left and right, it’s no wonder fitness themed events are all the rage.

photo credit: wilkie productions via tvnz.co.nz

photo credit: joeforamerica.com

Color and Mud Runs don’t advertise as a race.  It’s a fun party asking if you want to participate.  The goal is to do, not win.  It brings people together to do something outlandish.  It’s once big celebration of you saying yes.  It never asks you to say it again.  It’s something you look forward to and minimally have to prepare for.  It’s not something you can be.  

People don’t call themselves mud-runners or color-runners.  They don’t talk about what place they got or how they performed.  They talk about what it was like.  

A fitness community should be excited to share what it was like.  It should be an experience.  The choice to return should be to get more of that adventure.  The unknowing of what you’ll encounter requires you to question and explore and react.  It tests your brain as much as your will.  It calls upon you to figure things out.

The appeal of a fitness community is not makeshift programming and training partners.  It’s the constant encouragement of trying, and the mutual need to contribute.

2 thoughts on “The Community of Fitness

  1. Alix Prappas on

    Wonderful Post! As a fellow fitness (spiritual, intellectual, emotional, & physical) worker and enthusiast, the points in this resonate a lot with me. It is often a challenge, albeit a welcomed one, to maintain the integrity of my approach and uniqueness in working with clients without making it seem like my methods are uniquely different than that which has worked for millenia. Human body mechanics, chemistry, and motivation has not changed for thousands of years. Despite our modern technology and vast accumulation of research data, the principles and strategies that work are nothing new. The “newness” is simply coming from clever marketers looking to attract more attention from consumers.

    I hope you are well!

    • Christine on

      We are kindred spirits 🙂 If more people integrated instead of consumed, we’d have a mass of people who understood themselves instead of products and systems.

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