There's gotta be a fun social solution to working out, right?
October 20, 2008 12:18 PM   Subscribe

I need to get fitter, but I am notoriously bad at sticking to an exercise regimen. Help me think of fun, social things I could look into to get fit and meet people!

The deets:

I'm twenty five, female, 5'10" and 180 or so pounds. I'd like to drop 15-30 pounds and get more active and healthy-- I eat reasonably well and am trying to improve this all the time. But I've been sedentary for a good long time; I just started a part time job that is keeping me more active (retail-- running about, lifting things, you know) but it's not going to be a miracle worker, of course. I had a gym membership for a year and barely used it, something I deeply regret now and consider going back to, but I'm afraid I'll get into old habits. I'm learning how to ride a bike currently so I'm hoping that will help me get the heartbeat racing, but I also thought now that I'm getting some extra income I could look into a class or something that would teach me a fun skill and get me meeting new people, without making me think 'UGH, this is exercise [and thusly, not fun.].' Dancing, cardio, fighting, etc? Though preferably nothing that is mostly running-- I'm not a runner at heart.

So what sort of things can you suggest? Nothing's too crazy, really. My balance isn't great but I don't mind looking like a fool starting out. I am a nerd and a creative person, so anything weird or offbeat is always game. (Though rollerderby isn't really an option, though it looks fun.) I just want to get my brain rolling-- I'm hoping I can find something I can bike to around here so I can get extra exercise in.

Thanks all!
posted by actionpact to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here to recommend table tennis -- easier on the joints than standard tennis, and can be both social and a pretty terrific workout!
posted by vers at 12:40 PM on October 20, 2008

Find a rock gym and go climbing. You'll need a belaying partner which you should be able to find if you take a couple introductory classes at the gym. Memberships aren't too pricey and equipment is relatively low cost (which you can also rent at the gym until you feel like you really want to get into it).
posted by backseatpilot at 12:41 PM on October 20, 2008

Check this map for a list of TT clubs near you.
posted by vers at 12:43 PM on October 20, 2008

stop by the local YMCA and see what kind of rec leagues they have going on. Given your height, I'd suggest volleyball. Maybe basketball too, but those leagues tend to be a little more competitive and a little less social in my (limited) experience.
posted by xbonesgt at 12:45 PM on October 20, 2008

I know hiking is about as plain-vanilla an activity as you can get, but I recently joined several Meetup hiking groups and so far they've been fabulous. You'll be outside and going for miles, but as long as you avoid the "x-treme" groups, you'll find you're just walking along through a beautiful landscape with a lot of interesting and friendly people. I highly recommend.
posted by timoni at 12:46 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Capoeira. Good exercise and it tends to very, very social.
posted by Memo at 12:49 PM on October 20, 2008

I'll second the rec league idea. It's easier to go to your tuesday night game than to do an exercise regime all by yourself.
posted by valadil at 12:50 PM on October 20, 2008

How about a raking club? You and a bunch of your friends take turns raking each others lawn. I just raked back yard and it kicked my butt! especially if you rake vigorously and with a sense of urgency.

bonus: you can jump in the leaf piles afterwards.
posted by ian1977 at 12:51 PM on October 20, 2008

I'm seconding backseatpilot's recommendation of finding the rock gym (and a belaying partner!) My boyfriend and I were in a similar situation as you are now and a friend recommend the local rock gym. This was about two months ago and we've been going 2-3 times a week since then, and it's been great. We're both getting a lot fitter, enjoy and look forward to going, and are starting to get to know other climbers. We pay $38 a month each at our gym and now own our own equipment, but one can also pay as they go (I think it's $13 for a day pass) and rent all the equipment they need ($7/day). I imagine other places have similar set-up and prices.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 12:57 PM on October 20, 2008

The people I know who had a hard time getting into a regular exercise regiment found rock climbing to be social and really, really addictive.
posted by scabrous at 12:58 PM on October 20, 2008

Bike polo.
posted by box at 1:18 PM on October 20, 2008

Second the rock gym comment.

For me, that wasn't enough as I've aged and my metabolism has slowed down. I've gotten into the habit of doing little things daily -- going for a long walk with the dogs in the morning AND evening, taking the stairs everywhere, mixing my soda with ice so that it's somewhat diluted, and various other little tricks that don't make a big difference on their own but all together add up to something.
posted by SpecialK at 1:19 PM on October 20, 2008

Thirding the climbing gym suggestion - rock climbing is great exercise, social, and just a whole lot of fun.
posted by foodgeek at 1:19 PM on October 20, 2008

Biking! It's a fun and cheap way to get around. You can also join your local bike co-op to meet bike geeks.

And if you're interested in trying something different: pole dancing. It makes for a fun, sexually empowering work out and you'll probably not be the only one pleased with the results.
posted by pulled_levers at 1:38 PM on October 20, 2008

Ultimate frisbee! There are relatively non-competitive leagues all over that will teach you to play even if you've never picked up a frisbee before.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:06 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm a big fan of social dancing. (specifically, swing.) Great music, active, and easy to meet people as long as you're friendly. For a workout, I suggest you try the style of swing called "lindy hop", which is probably the most active. It has a bit of a learning curve, so be patient with yourself, because it is super fun once you get the hang of it. :) There are other types of social dance (salsa, for example), but I've personally found the swing people, especially lindy hoppers, to be particularly friendly and community-like.

Swing is a partnered dance, but you can show up alone and find people to dance with once you're there. That's the idea behind it, and you switch partners every song. I've been doing it regularly (3x/week) for about 1.5 years, and the turnaround in my social life is indescribable. I've developed a lot of friendships from casual to close, and it's noticeably improved my leg strength and endurance.

It's not a cure-all, though. I still have some extra pounds/areas to tone up, and I was actually thinking of asking a similar question to yours, because I, too, just do not find the gym stimulating, so I'm going to be watching the responses! :)

Oh, also, I did yoga for awhile. It was starting to do good things for my body (and it relaxes my mind a LOT, especially after class but it made me feel more relaxed in all areas of my life). But I've had to stop due to time constraints. It was a little on the boring side, too, so I am not sure if I will go back to it or replace it with something else when I have time again. But I know a lot of people who really like it, so you may try it, too. There's many varieties you can try out. If you go to classes, you don't have to motivate yourself through the entire workout, you just have to get yourself there. I liked that part a lot.

Good luck!
posted by inatizzy at 2:09 PM on October 20, 2008

Ditto bike polo, or really anything bike-related. Bikes are a pretty cheap and efficient form of transportation, plus you get a ton of exercise. It helps that most city bike scenes are filled with helpful, friendly people.

I stopped driving at the start of May this year, and so far I'm down 38 pounds.
posted by rocketman at 2:36 PM on October 20, 2008

This recommendation doesn't have the sex appeal of rock climbing but the effectiveness is amazing.

Hill sprints.

Or, to start with, simply hill walking. Increase the uphill speeds as capacity increases until sprinting is possible. You can get a hell of a workout in 15 minutes.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:43 PM on October 20, 2008

OK, my skim-reading missed the social requirement. The old hill sprint thing will work for fitness but its not much on the social side.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:47 PM on October 20, 2008

You can give Muay Thai a try. I started six months ago and I am addicted.

I suggest Muay Thai (or any martial art for that matter) for a few reasons:

- Your instructor will probably keep things mixed up. Muay Thai requires the use of many different striking and clinch positions - and a lot of endurance. Not only will this keep things fresh, but you get in shape quicker.

- Having the confidence knowing you can defend yourself.

- You meet new people.

Good luck on your endeavor!
posted by helios410 at 2:52 PM on October 20, 2008

I have a friend who is addicted to bellydancing, and I took a few classes with her. It's friendly and fun, and she gets to wear (and make!) cool clothes.

Hooping is another super-social, fun way to get in shape.

There's always contra dancing, square dancing and such. The crowd tends to be a little older, but that just means more friendly.

And nth-ing Capoeira. So. Much. Fun.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 3:25 PM on October 20, 2008

Dance Dance Revolution or In The Groove (DDR/ITG)? You can use this machine locater to see if there are arcade machines near you--you can usually try out 3 songs for $1. Can be social, depending on whether the other players are close to your age. (A lot of places have mostly young kids, though, so you might prefer playing at home.)

The machine locater isn't totally reliable, so I'd call ahead to confirm that whatever movie theater / arcade / game room still has a machine.

I don't think you need a great sense of balance when starting out. I have horrible coordination, but I eventually learned to play level 8 and 9 songs, which is definitely enough to get a workout.
posted by scission at 5:15 PM on October 20, 2008

one more vote for rock climbing. always cool people, and a variety of challenges for any level of fitness.
posted by Chris4d at 5:30 PM on October 20, 2008

roller derby! I'm in the best shape of my life despite a hectic grad school schedule and the requisite poor eating habits. It's also been a great way to meet some awesome girls and get in much needed social time.
posted by taraza at 5:44 PM on October 20, 2008

Seconding swing dancing lessons, and then finding a club or two in the area that has swing nights. You don't need much instruction to learn to swing dance, but the format of the lessons helps you meet people and build up some confidence as well as learning the basics.
posted by ErWenn at 6:28 PM on October 20, 2008

Bikram Yoga is a great workout that benefits from group energy. The exercise itself isn't group interactive, but provides a good way to introduce yourself to people and make friends.

For many, its addictive -- which may keep you coming back for more.
posted by GPF at 5:58 AM on October 21, 2008

Join a dodgeball league?
posted by chugg at 10:49 AM on October 21, 2008

Following up with the hiking idea, I would join an outdoors club. They organize hiking, canoeing and easy activities depending on the season. I am also not a runner. It also is not at all competitive so beginners can jump right in!
posted by Gor-ella at 10:55 AM on October 21, 2008

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