That thing is community. It’s a fickle word, often cliché, but the best thing about clichés is that there’s often some truth to them. So what’s the truth when it comes to outdoor fitness? What does “community” look like in this realm of fitness fanatics, and how does it actually make a difference when it comes to your results?
There are three things community brings to boot camp and outdoor fitness, and we’re going to hit on each of them a bit: Competition, Support, and Accountability.
I’ve always believed that, if you put an athlete on a starting line, he or she will run fast, put another runner on the same line next to them, and they’ll shatter a PR. It’s one of those great psychological elements of fitness that when you put another competitor in the room with you more often than not you’ll be motivated to give it that extra bit. It could be the sheer desire to be better than the other guy, or just a protective tendency to not want to embarrass yourself, either way it works to your advantage.
Having other people in the room, parking lot, or whatever venue you’re working out in offers a huge competitive boost when it comes to outdoor fitness and boot camps.
The communal aspect of boot camps comes with a great competitive supplementation, but that’s not the only thing having other athletes in a room offers. We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we failed to recognize the psychological, emotional, and physical support a fitness community offers us.
Frankly, there comes a point in almost any workout worth doing where you second guess yourself. There’s that brief second of, “Oh man, this actually isn’t fun, it hurts, and part of me wants to stop.” Its moments like these where your compatriots in your boot camp come in clutch. Whether it’s a high five, a hearty war shout, or just seeing someone else going through the same amount of pain as you, that bit of support may be just what it takes to get you over the hump and into the next gear.
A final differentiating element found within a communal workout like boot camps and outdoor fitness is accountability. While competition and support can get you through the workout for the day, accountability is what gets you to the ultimate finish line of the results you desire.
Anyone can stick it out through a half hour of pain, but it requires dedication to make a lifestyle of it and usher in transformation. It’s when our own dedication starts to wane and we want to skip a day or two, butcher our diet, and let our membership go stagnant that the communal aspect comes in handy. Having people expecting you in class, encouraging you to come back, and checking up on you when you don’t can make the difference between doing just one good workout and establishing life changing habits.
Regardless of where it is that you have a gap in your current program, be it a lack of competitive drive, accountability, or support, boot camps and outdoor fitness offer great remedies to these thanks to their communal context. Get out of the isolation mindset that often plagues the fitness world, and dive into a community of fitness cleats first!