Interested in knitting, astrology, gaming or making your own beer? Hey, it’s easy to find birds of a feather online or in real life that share those hobbies. One of my passions is exercise. So, when I was asked to join a private Facebook group in January 2019 that focused on promoting daily movement, it was a no-brainer to say yes. What has blown me away is how this international community has become a place of camaraderie and support that sparks my well-being each day.
A world-renowned executive recruiter, coach and author named Caroline started the group because she thought it would be a fun way to hold herself and others accountable. Originally from the United Kingdom, she’s lived around the world and has contacts on most continents. Which is why our approximately 50 community members reside in Australia, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, the UK, United States and parts of Asia. Most of us are in our forties and fifties and everyone is interested in increasing their personal fitness.
Like Suzanne, a long-time gym enthusiast who has added surfing to her repertoire since moving to Sri Lanka to launch a new business. Peter, who chronicles his long bike rides and walks in Germany with amazing photos of local architecture. Ruth-Anne, a writer in Vancouver who often logs over 20,000 steps a day walking her dog, skipping and working out. There’s Miki in London, who posts updates about yoga and riding horses that feel like a warm hug when you read them. And Allan in Seattle, a Scottish expat whose snarky accounts of his strength training sessions will make you laugh out loud.
Exercise means a lot to me. I lost 50 pounds, which was more than a third-of my size, back in 1992-1993 through regular workouts and healthy eating. Starting most days with a gym session before work helps me stay in shape, combat stress, increases my energy and keeps me in a mostly positive mood. I’m going to do it anyway, because working out is simply part of who I am now. But having a group of like-minded souls cheer me on, some who love exercise and others who are trying to make it a regular habit, is downright amazing. I’m the kid who loved collecting gold stars and smiley-face stickers from teachers for doing good work in elementary school. No wonder I push harder knowing there’s a group who is going to see and comment on my daily check-ins. A few times it has even gotten my butt out of bed and to the gym when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all.
Our community is about so much more than fitness though. It has become a safe place to vent when life goes sideways. We cheer on each other’s victories and offer support to those dealing with challenges. Updates are usually about exercise, but they can cover all aspects of well-being, from the importance of rest to learning how to be patient with yourself when dealing with the unexpected.
When I joined the community, I knew one member who was a business associate that connected me with Caroline. Today I’m thrilled to have met three of these virtual friends in person, have interviewed others for my book project and brought two more long-time buddies into the group as well. But I don’t have to meet anyone offline to wish them the best and delight in their progress, just as they have done for me. Being a part of this community continues to improve my life in so many ways. It keeps me focused on my well-being, creates joy, true connection and adds more all-around goodness to each day.