How to Meet People Through Fitness

Friends_Pals

It is said you are the average of the five people with whom you associate most.

Take a few minutes and think who those five people are.  Depending on your age, marital status, and job, this is most likely a combination of friends, family, and coworkers.  So really think about these people:

  • Are they healthy?
  • Are they successful?
  • Do they exercise?
  • Are they HAPPY?

Every day you spend time with these people, and part of their personality will rub off on you (and vice versa).  All too often I’ve found that Nerd Fitness readers tend to fall into the category of being the ONLY person in their group of five interested in getting healthy; they are the only person that has decided to make a life change.

This presents a conundrum. A riddle if you will, Trebek.

What happens when you’re the one person trying to get healthy, yet all of those around you have no interest in doing the same?

  • When you’re excited about reaching a new record of push ups, they’re mad at you for missing out on last night’s marathon Call of Duty session.
  • When you’re desperately trying to kick a sugar addiction and follow the Paleo Diet, your significant other is telling you, “but I love you the way you are, now let’s go to McDonalds.”
  • When you’re going to exercise on your lunch break with a quick Angry Birds Workout, your coworkers make fun of you for being weird and beg you to join them at Chotchkies for some Pizza Shooters, Shrimp Poppers, and Extreme Fajitas!

You may wonder: “Is it worth the effort when everyone is trying so hard to drag me back to their way of life?”  I’m here to tell you that it IS worth the effort, and that you do NOT need to be the only person trying to get healthy.

You probably don’t get a chance to pick new coworkers, you might be in a committed relationship, and heck…you might even like your lazy friends.

But it’s time to level up your associations.

Here’s why you need to do so, and how.

The Power of Community

Community Parachute

Nerd Fitness is living, breathing proof that a community, online or off, can be a tremendously powerful thing.  

When you come to the realization that there are people out there who share your love of both Star Wars and deadlifts, of healthy stir fry and RPGs, or of barefoot running and Harry Potter, it’s pretty freaking awesome.

We’re the most damn supportive misfits you’ll ever meet.  We support each other, we celebrate each others successes, and gladly lend a helping hand to one another when things are going poorly.

It’s no surprise to me that off the top of my head I could name five or six relationships that have begun as a result of Nerd Fitness.

We already have a section in the community for people to organize real life meet-ups with each other, and we’ll be expanding this into bigger and better things down the road.  In fact, Team Nerd Fitness is in the process of planning an EPIC Nerd Fitness meetup towards the end of the year.

However, no matter WHAT town or country you live in, there is an opportunity for you TODAY to start tracking down people in real life who have the same interests as you (you know, exercising, being healthy and awesome, etc.).

When you start spending more time with people who are healthier than you, faster than you, stronger than you, I guarantee some of them will start to rub off on you.  Rather than getting sucked back into mediocrity (BOOOO mediocrity!), you’ll be elevated to superhero status.

Bringing it to life

frankenstein_bringing_it_to_Life

Maybe you just moved to a new town, you’re looking for a new group of friends, or would like to find a potential love interest that shares your hobbies.

Whatever reason you have for wanting to meet up with people in real life, it’s a good decision.

Now, where the heck do we FIND these people?  Sure, we already have the Nerd Fitness Community where you can find folks, but what if you’re looking for more?

First and foremost, you need to identify the activities you enjoy or are interested in trying:

WHATEVER your particular hobby of choice may be, there’s a group of people in your town probably doing it right now.  Well maybe not RIGHT now, but in like, an hour.

So, for starters, create that list of things that you know you enjoy, and activities that you haven’t tried but would like to.

Skill should not have any effect on your list of things you’re interested in.  We can deal with that in a bit.

Where to find your new people

Find New People

Now that you have your list of things you’d like to try, it’s time to track them down.

1) For starters, do a simple Google search of “activity + your town” and see what pops up.  Sounds simple, I know…so freaking DO IT.  If you want to run, I guarantee there are twenty running clubs in your town…or maybe even a drinking club with a running problem in your town.  If you want to play ultimate frisbee, there are leagues ALL over looking for single folks to recruit.

2) Check out MeetUp.com.  What a freaking amazing resource. Do a search of ALL clubs within 5-10 miles of your city, and you’ll get dozens of hits, from hiking clubs juggling clubs.

3) Ask your fit co-workers.  No, not the ones that make fun of you for trying to eat healthy, but the ones that exercise and look like they’re in great shape – the ones you’d like to emulate.  Do some research: if you’re Facebook friends, see if you have any overlapping interests.  Not friends with them yet?  Ask  them for some fitness advice (even though you don’t need it, because you read Nerd Fitness like a boss). Try something like, “hey, you look like a fit dude. What’s your secret?”  And they’ll usually fire back with “oh, we play basketball on Wednesdays” or “we run every Saturday morning” and BAM. You’re in.

Even if the activity they participate in isn’t your particular cup of tea, that doesn’t mean you can’t participate.  In the beginning, it’s important to say YES to practically anything, which I’ll get to in a minute.

4) Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box: There are kickball leagues, dodgeball leagues, flag football leagues, tai chi clubs, and more.  If you haven’t found something that’s jumped out at you yet, pick something that seems interesting, even if you’ve never done it before.  How will you know if you like it unless you try it out?

Yah, this is going to require a tiny bit of effort, but far less than you’d expect: I signed up for MeetUp.com and found five interesting clubs within FIVE minutes.

Now, all of the above doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do the next step.

My Story

SteveAngkorWat

Believe it or not, I’m kind of a shy nerd.  After two years of traveling and struggling to really make new solid friendships, I recently moved to Nashville and decided to make finding good friends a HUGE priority.

I knew I had to be proactive, so I was.

A few months back I was in my apartment’s gym, and saw a dude named Tim wearing a Red Sox shirt.  I went over and introduced myself, saying I had just moved into the building and that I was from Boston.  When I saw Tim in the gym the next time, I asked him what people did for fun around there. He told me he and his friends were headed to a bar later on that evening to watch a football game.

There at the bar, one of Tim’s friends mentioned that he was organizing a rec basketball team.  I chimed in and said I’d love to join if they had room.  Sure enough, they did, and now I’m on a rec basketball team…something I haven’t done since college! I didn’t care that I sucked at basketball (I was cut from my high school team), and that I hadn’t picked up a ball in five years.  I let them know that I wasn’t great, but I could fill in where necessary.

Now I know these 10 guys  pretty damn well to do stuff in Nashville, all because we play basketball once a week for an hour.

Since then, whenever they invite me to ANYTHING, I don’t care what it is or if I think I’ll enjoy it, I say yes.

And here’s why.

Just say yes

YES!

When you’re joining a new club or thinking about trying a new activity, it’s so freaking important to say yes to everything.

Any activity, any social gathering, just say yes.  Who knows who you could meet, what opportunities could open up, or what other activities you could get involved with.

But that’s not even the most important reason to say yes.  If you start saying no up front or start saying no too many times, they’re going to stop asking the question.

Think about it, which person would YOU want to hang around with?

  • Person A: “Uh, um, I can’t today. I have a lot of work to do. Maybe though…”
  • Person B: “Sure I’m in. What it is? Who cares, ya, see you there.”

So just say YES. If you HAVE to say no, make sure you explain why you’re saying no, but make a plan to hang out at another time or explain you really want to be kept in the loop for the next one (which you absolutely MUST attend).

Attending a meetup alone?

stormtroopers_attending_a_meetup_alone

If you are headed to a new meetup, sure you can bring a friend along for moral support, but you know you’ll end up just talking to that person and ignoring everybody else.

Instead, be OKAY with showing up alone!

Expect to feel weird walking in there…but know you can develop the skill of being proactive.

Although we’ve already started to address confidence and social interaction, we’ll be delving into this topic more down the road.  It is ABSOLUTELY a skill that can be learned.

Here’s a step-by-step plan for what to do when you’re at a meetup or an unfamiliar social setting all alone:

  • Smile. First and foremost, nobody likes the creepy dude/girl with a scowl on their face.
  • Look for somebody else alone, as they might be like you and too shy to talk to somebody else. Plus, it’s 10 times easier to approach someone who is alone than to approach a group.
  • Make eye contact, give them a firm handshake, and introduce yourself.
  • Ask “Are you here for the ____________ meetup?  Okay cool me too. I just signed up yesterday and had no idea what to expect!”
  • Keep the questions coming: “What brought you here?” or “Have you lived her long? I just moved to town.” “What do you do for a living? Oh cool, I’m a bank robber.”
  • If the conversation starts to fall apart, say “great to meet you, I’m gonna run to the bathroom/grab a drink” and then go do that thing and move on to the next group.

Remember: If you are at a meetup, you are surrounded by people who are there because they WANT TO MEET PEOPLE.  Don’t be a wallflower – you’ll just go home and kick yourself, wondering why you didn’t say anything. So say something!

Ramit has also written a few great posts (and a must-watch video) on building social skills.

Be Proactive

Be Proactive

If you get anything out of today’s article, let it be this: Be proactive.

New friends and fun activities aren’t going to fall onto your lap.  You need to be on the hunt for fun things to do and new people to associate with.  Yeah, you might have less time for marathon video game sessions and nights alone in front of the TV. Hopefully you’re okay with that!

You’ll quickly learn that life is better enjoyed in the company of others who have your shared interests –  people who that like you for you who are, that support you for your accomplishments, that are cheering for you to get healthier, stronger, and faster.

Do you have any advice for Rebels on meeting new people who are interested in getting healthy?

Any success stories on joining new clubs or making new friends since deciding to get healthy?

Now go make friend and play nice.

-Steve

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photo source: yes, box, jump, parachute, legos, stormtroopers

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  • zack

    there’s this new site healthysmack.com, you can meet people while working out!