Gym communities offer more than just a place to exercise. They are dynamic environments that foster social connections, motivation, and a sense of belonging, all of which contribute significantly to the overall experience of their members. Recent studies highlight various benefits of participating in gym communities.
As a CrossFit and community-based gym owner for 15 years, I know the role community plays in the success of fitness habits and health improvement. Life-changing behavior modification takes place in these gyms. Explaining this to new gym members and, more importantly, the uneducated public is difficult, to say the least. I am encouraged to see research on this very topic.
1. Enhanced Social Capital and Community Belongingness: Gym members, especially those in community-focused gyms like CrossFit, report higher levels of social capital and a stronger sense of community belonging. This social environment does not just foster friendships; it also enhances adherence to exercise routines(Whiteman-Sandland et al., 2018)
2. Positive Impact on Physical and Mental Wellbeing: Gym communities, particularly during disruptions like COVID-19 lockdowns, play a crucial role in maintaining their members’ physical and mental health. The sense of community and the structure provided by these gyms can be vital in upholding exercise routines and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety (Ocobock & Hejtmanek, 2022)
3. Perception of Progress and Value of Fitness: Gyms that actively build a community like CrossFit can lead to a higher perceived value of the fitness experience and individual progress. This perception is crucial in motivating members to continue their fitness journeys(Pickett et al., 2016)
4. Wellbeing Benefits from Nature-Based Gym Programs: Programs like the Green Gym, which integrate physical activity with nature, show significant increases in wellbeing, particularly in individuals starting with lower levels of wellbeing. These findings underscore the benefits of incorporating natural elements into gym programs(Smyth et al., 2022)
5. Increased Exercise Uptake and Community Engagement: Initiatives like the Gym for Free program demonstrate increased exercise uptake, especially among women in economically deprived areas. This highlights the role of gym communities in promoting physical activity and addressing health inequalities(Rabiee et al., 2015)