Making friends can be intimidating at any age, but it seems to become increasingly daunting once we reach adulthood. That doesn’t mean forging new friendships is any less desired or beneficial: Connection remains vital to our happiness, even as routines, circles, hobbies, and stages of life change. We may just have to give it a little more effort.
A good place to start is identifying and getting involved with something you’re interested in. If your interest happens to be health and fitness, there are the additional benefits of supporting your health and well-being while making social connections. When you surround yourself with others making healthy choices, it increases the likelihood you’ll stick with them. Plus, it can make those efforts a lot more fun.
Heather King, PT, group-training coordinator, and Master Alpha Instructor at Life Time in Plymouth, Minn., has witnessed firsthand the power of these types of connections.
“I actually had a couple in my Alpha class who got married,” says King. “They met at work, but when they realized they both were Life Time members and one was in Alpha, the other joined the class too. I was a bridesmaid in their wedding, and other class participants were also in the wedding party, as well as guests.”
Aside from true love connections, King sees and encourages all types of interactions between members. “I’ve gotten many of my GTX class participants to run 5Ks together, and I even ran a marathon with a client once. I’ve encouraged Alpha participants to show off their skills in group competitions. I know of countless text groups between members who chat and get together to workout outside of class.”
“I like to make sure my class setting is conducive to talking so participants can get to know each other,” she continues. “And I include everyone in everything. Once they’re part of the group, friendships grow — so much so that sometimes I have to insert myself into the conversation rather than being the conversation starter.”
If you’re looking to make friends at your health club, these ideas can help you go about it.
- Join a group training community. Choose between GTX or Alpha classes and meet to train with the same group of individuals multiple times per week.
- Become a regular at studio, cycle, or yoga classes. Find the format you love and if you attend the same classes at the same times on the same days, you’re likely to start recognizing some familiar faces.
- Take the lead from your kiddos. Drop your kids off at the Kids Academy or enroll them in classes or sports and fitness programs. See who they bond with and then introduce yourself to their parents.
- Show up to play. See someone shooting hoops alone? Ask if they mind if you shoot around with them or if they want to play a game of one-on-one. Pickleball players are also notoriously friendly and inviting of joiners, and it’s an easy game to pick up if you’ve never played.
- Start a conversation. If you notice someone you think you may have something in common with, talk to them. It could be the person who orders the same thing as you at the LifeCafe, someone getting a service near you at the LifeSpa, or the person you regularly see while you’re swimming laps, running on the treadmill, or sitting in the whirlpool.
- Pursue a sport. Interested in swimming? Life Time offers adult group swim lessons and training. More into tennis? Check out the adult classes, leagues, mixers, and events. Consider yourself a baller? Adult pickup games are on the schedule throughout the week, while adult basketball leagues are also offered.
- Get to know your trainers, coaches, and instructors. Are you working with a fitness professional or do you have a favorite performer whose class you never miss? They can make good friends, too!
- Sign up for an athletic event. There’s plenty to bond over when you’re training for a race, cycle event, or triathlon. Many large events have Facebook groups or other ways of connecting with fellow participants.
- Put away your phone. We’re all for listening to a pump-up playlist or good podcast while working out, but be mindful if you’re always on your phone or have your headphones in — it might deter others from striking up a conversation with you. Occasionally take the earbuds and notice if there might be an opportunity to make an unexpected connection.