It wasn’t long ago that the quest for fitness, weight loss, and athletic achievements were a solo endeavor. With the risk of failing, or people discovering your secrets, or fast tracks to success, we all trained in the proverbial closet. Going to the gym was an early morning solo commitment that was easy to blow off, and signing up for a random running race or triathlon 12-6 months in advance was an easy thing to pull a “no show” without accountability.
Recently, I took the time to look around and attempt to analyze what the population was currently doing to stay fit, healthy, and active. What I found was a bit of a surprise to be honest. I made a short list of activities that friends, family, and those around me were involved in. What I found was all the activities had one thing in common: they all were part of a group that was both social and active, with less emphasis on the hard skills and intensity, but more focused on the aspect of play, having fun, and being social.
I found this to be rather eye-opening and wanted to look deeper into the trend. With almost all modern forms of exercise from Zoomba, Spin classes, running groups, cycling group rides, Cross-fit, and so many others it’s a trend that’s hard to ignore. Looking at it one step further, I realized that even races like Tough Mudders, trail running, or mountain bike relays and obstacle races take those same fitness enthusiasts and let them not only play together, but compete together. All of these events are truly a social form of exercise, competition, challenge, and fun. Not to mention they usually involve a huge celebration, photo taking, and a t-shirt to prove that they actually attended and followed through.
I run a Wednesday night group mountain bike ride and attempt to give a similar type of experience. In the spring through fall months, we ride mountain bikes, and when the snow flies, they turn into Fat bike rides. All the rides are intended to be fun and a no one gets left behind format is always in place. We even split the group on occasion if a few riders feel they’re in over their heads. It’s a blast, and the best part is always the après. A social we host, where high fives and re-enactments of the greatest crashes of the night are relived. One local rider has quoted to me, “I love Wednesday night rides with you, they break up my week and I don’t just look forward to just the weekends anymore; not to mention I have so much fun.”
Locally in Canmore, we have a number of amazing groups 12 months of the year that come together once or twice a week. The objective is to play, have fun, encourage each other, be social, and, as a byproduct, everyone gets inspired, feels accountable, and ultimately gets fit in the process. So, the next time you’re looking to make a healthy life style change and feel you need some accountability but want it to feel more like play, try a local group that fits your activity and you might just be surprised how much more fun you can have when it’s a group affair.