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The power of finding your fitness tribe.

January 3, 2019

The power of finding your fitness tribe.

January 3, 2019

Habits make or break us. These seemingly insignificant, autopilot-actions we take every day accumulate to either create success or lead us down a path towards failure. Motivation will only get you so far in behaviour change and it’s our habits that make the real impact.

Concerning health and fitness, people often struggle to create real change by altering habits that constantly sabotage their progress. The multi-billion-dollar fitness industry offers many solutions from phone apps to special gym memberships to help break these cycles, all with varying rates of success. No matter which route you take, it seems that in the long run we need to harness the power of community, in order to implement sustainable habit change.

Community can be defined as a group of people sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.

So why is community so powerful? Because it sets and supports a social norm. As humans we are striving for a sense of belonging, and once we find our tribe, we naturally want to fit in. By finding your place in a tribe that supports your goals demonstrates the positive habits you want to develop, the daily shifts in behaviour become a no-brainer. In fact, more powerfully than that, action outside of the community’s ‘healthy norm’ stands out as unacceptable or undesirable.

It’s challenging to shift an unwanted habit or unhealthy behaviour, if those closest to you are not supporting or encouraging it. Studies suggest that environment trumps willpower and the habit- change becomes unsustainable. The flip side of this is that if you create an environment that supports positive, healthy habits as the most obvious and easy option then change becomes a natural progression. To create an environment where the negative or unhealthy habit is antisocial within your closest circles solidifies change.

So how do I find my tribe?

The saying goes “your vibe attracts your tribe” suggesting that you simply have to act like the people you want to attract and they will appear. However, this is not always the case and often we need to take a more active approach in making change, for example:

Join a fitness group

Small group training gyms or outdoor groups tend to have a stronger community-effect than simply starting a gym membership. By attending classes at the same time each day you will get to know the regulars. Many of these training groups have social events or ‘sweat dates’ on weekends that make a good difference in solidifying networks.

Interest group

Enroll in a group that supports and promotes the habit you want to develop: for example, a Saturday cycle squad, yoga class or 12-week nutrition program with group accountability.

Social media shout out

Reach out to your existing community on Facebook and organise a weekend workout, hike or activity that is based around healthy behaviours. By regularly setting up these social events people will start to associate you with these healthy behaviours, re-enforcing your new identity as a ‘hiker’, ‘active’ or ‘healthy’ person.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This relates to the law of averages, which is the theory that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes.

As a trainer I sometimes see individuals become disgruntled if they are not at the top of the class, trying their hardest and yet falling behind the pack. Personally, I find that incredibly exciting. To be at the bottom of the class and pushing to keep up means guaranteed improvement. It means you are in the right spot. I would question the use of a training session that you breeze through ahead of the crowd (for anything other than your ego). To compare ourselves with others is part of human nature and so we need to be aware of our benchmarks. A strong, hard-working and healthy community provides an inspirational benchmark.

Although the effects of our habits may seem small or insignificant, over time these autopilot decisions define us. Being part of a supportive, active and healthy community makes the development of positive habits that support our goals far easier. Surround yourself with people who make healthy living the obvious choice.

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