If you hope to become healthier this year, it’s perhaps not just a matter of choosing an activity, but a community that fits you. Many health and wellness activities blossom into friendships, learning opportunities, and support networks. Try a new workout, and you may just end up with a new tribe.
Crossfit – Crossfit began about 16 years ago, and its growth has been unparalleled. The workout is defined as “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity”. Translated, that means a work out that looks like military training on steroids, pushes you to your limits, and gets your muscles pretty freaking ripped. It is no wonder that Time Magazine lists one of the top 3 reasons people love Crossfit is the tribal, community feel of the gyms. You do not push yourself to the max without forming some kind of bond. Many Crossfit gyms also encourage healthy food choices and will share recipes or even host pick-ups for healthy food delivery. This is a culture that is big on lean protein and will support the grass-fed beef farmer in the area. Oh, and just like any niche culture, Crossfit has its own language. Study up!
Mommy & Baby Boot Camps – Go to a public park on a cool summer evening and you’re likely to see a pack of women, running, squatting, and pushing strollers. These women and babies are part of a growing number of folks who are working with what they’ve got – namely, a baby in a stroller and a will to push themselves. This workout has grown in popularity over the past decade – Entrepreneur Magazine has listed two such businesses - Baby Boot Camp, and Fit4Mom in the top 500 franchises, for several years. Participants in these classes do a workout with their baby: gaining better fitness for mom and fun bonding for both. Women who participate in these classes find more than an hour of workout time. Many classes offer nutrition lessons, motivation, and sisterhood. After experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, and being a new mom, it’s pretty sweet to be in the trenches with other moms who understand.
Fitness Classes for Dogs & Their Humans – The concept is similar to mommy & baby classes– dog owners hit the park with their fur babies for a workout tailored to dog & owners’ fitness levels. There are all kinds of options – like cross training, boot camp, and even yoga. Instructors are typically skilled in training humans and their four-legged companions. No one understands a dog lover like another dog lover, so use the time you would usually take to walk to incorporate targeted exercises for you and your pooch. Some classes also use this time as a fun opportunity to reinforce obedience training. If you don’t have a dog of your own, don’t fret. Become a pet sitter and get in a good workout with your client’s pet or start fostering dogs. Both options are gratifying experiences that allow you to take advantage of the health benefits of hanging out with animals without taking on the full-time responsibility of being a pet owner.
Yoga – There’s no denying that yoga has thoroughly entrenched itself as part of American culture. The most recent Yoga Journal study says that nearly 36 million americans are practicing yoga – and spending money on it. In 2012, yogis spent 10 billion dollars on everything from gym fees to hot shorts. In 2016, that number jumped to 16 billion. For some yoga devotees, the classes are a chance to stretch out sore muscles that are overtaxed from sitting too long at a desk. For others, yoga is a way of life. There are festivals all over the country where yogis can take their practice to the next level and commune with other practitioners. You’ll also find yoga studios a great resource for healthy food ideas, which may lean more vegetarian, depending on the tradition.
If you are looking for a healthier lifestyle and a community to support you, try one of these activities on for size. If the workout isn’t your style, be comforted by the fact that you’re still likely to have fun and meet new friends.