Out of shape people normally have out of shape friends. They also tend to date and partner with out of shape people. Not surprisingly, fit people tend to have fit friends and partner with in shape people. Fitness is rarely just an individual thing. It’s a lifestyle and a big part of any lifestyle is who you surround yourself with.
Peer pressure is real. People who smoke tend to be friends with people who smoke. Same with people who do drugs, commit crime, or are alcoholics. However, peer pressure shouldn’t be exclusively associated with failure. I love the term “a rising tide lifts all boats” because it is frequently true. Positive peer pressure and healthy competition can definitely motivate people and encourage success in all things.
Active people generally want other people to join them in their happenings. Obviously, tennis, racquetball, softball, ultimate Frisbee, football, soccer, and all the competitive sports mean that you need at least another person to participate in the activity. Even solo things like cycling, hiking, running, yoga, or strength training are more fun with others and the accountability of doing it with a friend can help with consistency. Mild competition can encourage you to push yourself harder than you might solo.
I’m always pestering friends to go hiking, do yoga, try acrobatics, play tennis, and generally come to do active things with me. I’m drawn to people who lead a similar lifestyle. Pretty much all my active friends are the same. I do have friends who aren’t active, but I see them less and we have less in common. If the only activity I can do with someone is share an expensive and fattening meal on an infrequent basis, their prominence in my life diminishes over time. Relationships are forged on shared experiences. Hopefully those shared experiences are built on more than gluttony or intoxication.
If you want to get in shape, you should start befriending fit people and doing things with them. Join a fitness community. I’m not saying you need to drop all your friends but if you are unhappy with your weight and fitness, evaluate what is keeping you from meeting your goals. It might very well be your current friends, a lack of friends, a relationship, family, or a combination of all of these. Start with adding healthy people to your life. Over time, reevaluate your relationships with negative people who are holding you back. Chances are that this will extend to more than just your fitness level.
One of the things I am most proud of with respect to Knotty Yoga is the community of people who participate. Many friendships are formed in this highly supportive, healthy, active community of amazing people. Knotty Yoga helps people get in shape and build a fitness foundation and then the people use that foundation to do a variety of other activities. Before and after classes, I love hearing about people going hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, pole dancing, surfing, playing competitive sports, doing distance athletics, taking martial arts training, and numerous other activities. People are always encouraging others to join them.
When I hear comments from people new to the studio, the top three I hear are how hard the workouts are, how fit / attractive the students are, and how friendly and supportive everyone is. When someone comes and starts taking classes, they will begin making physical progress but they will also meet active people and begin sowing the seeds of friendship. As the person gets more physically capable and immersed in an active lifestyle, they will have a new network of people to try new things with. It’s wonderful to see people do things that they had never dreamed they would be capable of before.