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The Right Fit: A Community!

Community Building

By Elaine Guerrazzi | March 9, 2020

I recently bought the book Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal.  The premise of the book is about “how exercise helps us find happiness, hope, connection, and courage.” McGonigal (2019) writes in the introduction “Many of the classes I taught turned into communities that not only moved together but also supported and celebrated one another.  In these classes, I learned what collective joy feels like…”(p. 3). One of my prior blogs, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul expresses my belief about the joy of movement; movement enhances my social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual wellbeing.

I am often amazed that some of the greatest people and greatest memories I have connect either directly or indirectly to my active engagement in sports, fitness, and wellness.  While being self-motivated for a lifetime of health and wellness I tend to be a “gym-hopper”; one who moves from gym to gym in search of the “right fit”.  After reading just the introduction of McGonigal’s book the connection to my current gym became clear. I am applying an athletic perspective on the person-environment fit model. 

“Person-environment (PE) fit refers to the degree of match between individuals & some aspect of their work environment. The concept of PE fit is firmly rooted in the tradition of Kurt Lewin’s maxim that B = /(PE);behavior is a function of both person & environment,” Grimsley (n.d.).

My behavior, active engagement, and satisfaction results from the match between my goals and the attributes of a chosen environment. How well are my interests, preferences, knowledge, skills, abilities, personality traits, values, and goals obtainable through membership at a gym?  I joined F45 a few months ago and have found a great gym/workout that meets my needs. The surprise was the sense of community and a connection to wellness aspects beyond just the physical. 

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, and spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life”   Unknown

Personal reasons for going to a gym differ with everyone; it is a bonus when you find the “right fit”. Four elements for a sense of community include membership, influence, reinforcement, and a shared emotional connection (McMillan and Chavis, 1996). For me, the “right fit” found at F45 include:

**A sense of belonging
**A connection and camaraderie with friends
**An atmosphere of healthy competition
**A holistic wellness aspect

“One of the best things I love about our F45 studios are the
friendships that have been made!!
Accountability is key when it comes to fitness and
having someone to sweat it out with you not only helps
push you to reach that fitness goal
but is just so much more fun!!!”  
Coach Jon

The quality of program cannot rise above the caliber of its personnel. The heart as much as the head provides an atmosphere for success.  Attributes such as caring, listening, seeking to understand and affirm participants individuality are part of what makes F45 the right fit for me.  These dual characteristics enable trainers to encourage participants to use their abilities to improve physical fitness and support their overall wellbeing. The F45 trainers ability to inspire others fuels their desire to serve. 

Most gyms believe a sense of community matters.
The key is to find the right fit for you.
Keep in mind that movement can do more
then enhance your physical fitness.
Movement will enhance social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual wellbeing.

A portion of McGonigal’s Final Thoughts (p. 212) supports my idea that there is more to a “workout” location than just a place for physical movement.

In a 2017 essay, Norwegian ethicist Sigmund Loland posed the question: If it becomes possible, should we replace exercise with a pill?  Scientists are already trying to manufacture medicines that mimic the health benefits of exercise. What if they succeed?  “Considering exercise takes time and energy and usually financial resources in addition to implying a risk for injury, the only reason for not replacing exercise with a pill must be related to values in the very activity of exercising in itself,” Loland writes.  “Does exercise have such values, and if so, what are they?”

Based on what I’ve learned from science and stories that fill this book and from my own direct experience, I would say the answer is a resounding yes.  Movement offers us pleasure, identity, belonging, and hope.  It puts us in places that are good for us.

Anyone have any comments to share related to their sense of community and/or enhancement of personal wellbeing?

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