Like the old man in The Legend of Zelda said, it’s dangerous to go alone. As you embark on your fitness quest, the most dangerous thing you can do is try to do this solo.
Think about it like this: would you have fought Onyxia back in 2004 as a lone Paladin? Or would you attack an AD&D Beholder without a full party to back you up? What about fighting Sephiroth as just Cloud and no one else?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then we need to have a talk. Because I’m worried about you.
I mean, as much as fitness and weight loss is an incredibly personal undertaking, if you head into an expert-mode dungeon without some kind of backup, you’re going to wipe. You’re going to wipe hard.
So Join a Guild!
Just like in a video game, you really need some support to take on those fitness bosses. If you want to blow up the Evil Lords of Gluten, you’re going to need help. If you want to smash the Council of Three Fats, bring some friends. If you plan to pulverize the Princess of Pilates, pull in a party of positive influences. If you want to escape the seductive grasp of Lady Laziness, you’re going to need someone to slap some sense into you.
You see where I’m going with this, right?
You need people. You can’t do it alone. Believe me–I am speaking from experience. Without my wife standing beside me, supporting me, motivating me, and pushing me along, I never would have been able to keep it up.
And without Geek Fitness, I would have lost it, too. I’ve noticed that when I’m not regularly updating the site, I slack on my workouts and my running. Same goes for Twitter. Without people holding me accountable, I fall back into the welcoming arms of Lady Laziness.
But where do you go to find your fitness guild? There are tons of places where you can get involved in your local community.
First of all, there’s your friends and family. Tell them what’s up, what you have planned. Talk about your goals, aspirations, and–perhaps most importantly–your reasons behind starting your fitness quest. Brothers, sisters, moms, dads, husbands, wives, college buddies, whatever…they’re all fantastic sources of support and inspiration.
But not everyone can find a guild so easily. If your personal relationships are toxic and unsupportive (which happens more often than you’d think), head to the gym. Make friends there. Talk to folks. You’re all there for the same reason, so you at least have one thing in common. Just don’t be creepy about it.
The same thing goes for local yoga studios, running shops, tennis clubs, martial arts studios, whatever. There are tons of places where people gather to work out and exercise together. You just have to seek them out.
Again, that’s not so easy for everyone. In my case, there’s a single gym in my rural town–and no yoga studios, no running store, no cycling shop, nothing. I have to travel at least an hour to get to a city large enough to find any.
So what are folks like us supposed to do?
You’re reading this, which tells me that you’re obviously able to find awesome resources online. So take that one step further. When you find an awesome resource, latch on and join in on whatever that resource’s community has going on.
If you’re a crazy Twitter person like I am, then you should start hitting up different hastags. There are the obvious ones like #running and #fitness, and they’re all fine and dandy, but the real connections and relationships come from places like #FitFluential, #runningbloggers, #FitnessFriday, and even #MeatlessMonday. And there are so many more out there, but those are just a few I keep saved in TweetDeck.
Then there’s the awesomeness that is Fitocracy. If you haven’t checked them out before, read my take on the real-life fitness RPG and sign up. The TLDR version is that it’s a fitness RPG/social network, and these people are awesome. If you need support and motivation to keep going, you’ll find it there. There are groups for bookworms, gamers, runners, lifters, vegetarians, and everything in between.
(A note regarding Fitocracy: After drafting this post, I applied and was accepted into the newly revamped #FitocracyAmbassador program. If that doesn’t let you know how important I think belonging to these communities is, I don’t know what will.)
Tumblr has a lot going for it in terms of fitness, but I have a few issues with it that made me actually leave that community. There are lots of negative body image issues and pro eating disorder stuff on there. And while a lot of their “fitspiration” is fantastic, and the “fitblr” community can be quite strong, there’s a lot of negativity to weed out, too. So if you head over there, be careful. Please.
And then there’s the old standby: Facebook. (Even if you don’t have at-home and in-person support from family and friends, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find some through status updates and progress photos.)
As obnoxious as some people can be with their “I’m at the gym! Look at me!” statuses and selfies (#guiltyascharged), there’s a lot of good reasons to follow suit. Posting your activities and results on Facebook is a great way to be held accountable to keep going, the likes feel nice and comments are generally always positive. Plus, when other people see the hard work you’re doing, those small changes you don’t even notice might get called out.
Remember: It’s Dangerous To Go Alone
Just like Link in The Legend of Zelda, we all have to have somebody there. Can you imagine where the little guy would have been if he’d missed that old man in the cave? Zelda might never have been rescued, and poor Link would have just been a short, pudgy guy in a green suit and elf hat beating monsters with a stick.
Don’t let that be you.
Find your Onyxia-slaying guild, find your old man in a cave. Don’t let the Evil Lords of Gluten stand between you and your goals. Don’t let Lady Laziness seduce you with her feminine wiles and distract you from your fitness quest. There are people who want to help you, people who’d love nothing more for you to give them the opportunity.
So, if you didn’t learn anything else from a lifetime of playing video games, remember the advice you got from that old man in the cave: it’s dangerous to go alone.