Why Your Gym's Sense of Community Matters

one man lifting a dumbell while another gives advice on form
You've found a gym that's special when you can feel its sense of community.

by Autumn Jones

Everyone has their personal reasons for going to the gym. Some like to sweat and dash, some prefer a longer escape so they can take their time, and others enjoy the camaraderie and sense of community they find with fellow fitness friends.

As working out becomes a regular part of your routine, it's a huge bonus to enjoy the gym you go to. Cutting-edge cardio machines and post-workout hydromassages are enough to make you fall in love, but you really know you've found a gym that's special when you can feel its sense of community.

Connecting With Other Members

Whether you've never lifted a weight or you've been running marathons for years, joining a gym means making a commitment to your health. It's the place you go to escape the hustle and bustle and dedicate time and energy to your overall well-being. You want an environment that allows you the freedom to be yourself and offers the support needed to maintain balance. Actively engaging with a fitness community is better than just being a number on a roster of members.

But getting to know people while working out isn't always easy. Introducing yourself while someone is in the middle of a steep incline on the treadmill isn't exactly the best gym etiquette. (In fact, that might be kind of awkward.) When you're shopping around for a gym, it's important to consider the sense of community each place offers. Although the majority of the time you spend in the gym is dedicated to exercising, a good dose of socializing adds balance to your experience and allows you to make a meaningful connection with other members.

Why Gym Buddies Pay Off

Making gym friends has plenty of benefits. Not only will you enjoy the sense of community that comes from putting a name to a face you see regularly around the gym, but you may notice your fitness levels improve as well. According to a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, exercising with a partner can improve performance over time. This is why many gyms bring members together through special interest groups such as running clubs and multi-person training sessions. These experiences foster a strong community while also increasing the longevity and success of each person's fitness goals.

Gyms like Planet Fitness recognize that hard work deserves rewards, which is why you'll find monthly free pizza and bagel days on their schedule. Connecting with like-minded exercisers over an occasional slice or schmear is a fun way to end a workout and a great way to meet other members. You might even find your next gym buddy!

Getting the Most Out of Your Gym Experience

Living a healthy life is more than just getting in as many reps as possible. Mental, social and emotional strength play an important role in your self-care as well. Getting the most out of your gym experience means finding a place that meets your needs on multiple levels — far more than the equipment it offers — and sees you as the individual you are, free of judgment and full of support. When you're looking for a gym, don't underestimate the power that a sense of community can add to your life.