Let’s face it, it can be hard to stay motivated for every gym session and workout on your training schedule. From early-morning wake-ups to healthy diet choices, switching to a healthy lifestyle takes some serious mental fortitude. While at the end of the day your personal willpower is what will get you across the finish line, you don’t have to embark on your fitness journey alone. Fostering a strong community of friends, family and fellow fitness enthusiasts can help keep you motivated and on track when the going gets tough.
We sat down with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak to learn more about how to build a community of support for yourself and how to leverage it for your maximum fitness potential. Long story short, finding an engaged and active fitness community is of utmost importance.
Oxygen: How important is it to have a strong support system when beginning a fitness journey?
Harley Pasternak: I think it’s very important that you have at least one person who is your accountability partner — whether that person is a friend, a training partner, a personal trainer, a spouse, a co-worker or somebody who is on the mission with you. This person might go for walks with you. This person is, at the end of the day, somebody who you can email what you ate that day and they’ll email you what they ate. They might be somebody who you can link your Fitbit to so you can see each other’s steps every day. I think it can be very important.
Oxygen: How can a supportive community help you reach your goals?
HP: I think by having at least one person in your corner on the days when you really don’t feel like going for that walk or working out, and they do, they’ll help bring you up to their level and vice versa. When you get into a bad eating habit, they might be able to call you out on it and make you aware of something maybe you’re in denial of.
Oxygen: What if someone you know and trust is against your transformation and/or goals — such as a spouse or a family member? How can you forge ahead?
HP: Great question. We deal with this all the time — it’s called Revenge Body. We are dealing with people who are trying to get “revenge” on people who have belittled them or mocked them for not looking their best. Plus, along the way, they often have people who are trying to sabotage their transformation or success.
For example, a couple that I worked with, one of them really wanted to lose weight and the other one felt threatened that if their spouse lost weight and became fantastic looking, they were concerned that spouse might leave them. I think it’s important that you have a conversation beforehand with anybody who is in your life who might want to sabotage you. Explain how important this journey is for you, and ask either for them to help you with the journey or stay out of your way. Regardless, if the person does in fact make efforts to sabotage you, it’s important you steer clear of them and focus on your goal.
Oxygen: If you’re doing this on your own, how do you foster a community from scratch?
HP: Good question. That might be approaching someone at work, a loved one or going on the Fitbit app and finding groups there. There are many groups and communities you can join.
Oxygen: Do online forums and groups work?
HP: Yes. For some people but not for all. Everyone is different.
Oxygen: What are your top tips for building your own community?
HP: We’re building communities today, right here, right now. At Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival, we are literally creating communities of fitness professionals and of the general population who are coming together with common goals, curiosity and interests to find new forms of physical exercise to fall in love with and other people to potentially join and do them with. Group fitness is a great example of this.
Oxygen: What kinds of people/personalities are important to have in your inner circle of support?
HP: Supportive ones. That’s really it.
Oxygen: Do you think that people who are introverted or shy have a harder time building a community? What is your advice for them?
HP: Sometimes yes, but if you’re a certain way, chances are there are many other people just like you, looking for someone similar to themselves. You can find them through apps, and you can find them here at Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival. We have a lot of different people here over these few days, and everyone here has common interests and common goals.