What other clubs/hobbies have a community like CrossFit?
November 9, 2018 2:31 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering trying CrossFit but I'm not sure the actual programming is my thing. But I'm really drawn to what I've heard about the community aspect of CrossFit. Supposing I decide not to go to CrossFit, what other hobbies/clubs/venues/etc. should I try to find that camaraderie?

I've heard most CrossFit boxes are good places to make friends, full of friendly people who will support you and learn your name and notice when you're not there. My current gym is more a head-down, do-your-own-thing kind of place. Good for exercise, but less good for socialising. Same with my adult gymnastics class.

If I don't go to CrossFit, is there anywhere else I could try to find the same kind of community and have a good chance of making friends? Doesn't have to be exercise-related. Open to any suggestions!

I'm in Melbourne, Australia and I'm a 29-year-old female.

posted by bellebethcooper to Human Relations (37 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Language learning - I've made great friends through that.

Scottish country dancing - you might need to try a few groups to find your best social fit but either way but it's lots of fun and great exercise and really welcoming. The one I was in was all ages and very friendly (I'm not in Melbourne unfortunately). I tried it on a whim and stayed for years (til a dodgy ankle stopped me).
posted by kitten magic at 2:50 AM on November 9, 2018

Also with language learning beginner classes are especially great as it's a bonding experience all being thrown in together.
posted by kitten magic at 2:51 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Parkrun. There are several near Melbourne.
posted by sagwalla at 3:23 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I did powerlifting in Melbourne, crossfit when I moved to the UK. Everything about powerlifting is better than crossfit. I went to the Melbourne Uni gym (open to the public) and trained with the powerlifting club there, and found it to be a really sociable, supportive environment. Competitions are insanely fun, too.
posted by nerdfish at 3:26 AM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seconding parkrun. It’s well worth turning up a few times to check it out; put your name down to volunteer if you really want to kick-start the process of becoming part of the parkrun community. Here is a link to a map where you can find your closest event.
posted by archy at 3:44 AM on November 9, 2018

Choral groups for sure, if you have any interest in music. They have always been warm and welcoming.

My Pilates place in the Macedon Ranges (hello, fellow Victorian!) is like that. My favourite yoga studio in Westgarth, Good Vibes Yoga, was like that too. I never felt at home in chain fitness places.
posted by third word on a random page at 4:20 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

A lot of martial arts classes (although you'll want to avoid the McDojo ones).
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:28 AM on November 9, 2018 [3 favorites]

Seconding martial arts classes. I’ve done capoeira angola and karate and had that at both places, but it varies a lot from school to school.

Some craft groups can be like this too.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:08 AM on November 9, 2018

I've been a member of two communities for about 40 years now: tabletop RPG and Star Trek. My suggestion to get started in either of these would be MeetUp for a local gaming group, and Starfleet International, for a ship (club) nearest you.
It's a good time to be a gamer, despite all the Gamergate stuff, and it's a great time to be a Trekkie/Trekker, because there is Star Trek on TV (Discovery).
Any questions, please let me know!
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 5:23 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fencing. I’ve found it to be a wonderful, welcoming community.

Also HEMA (historical European martial arts). This is primarily historical fencing. A list of schools in Australia includes several in Melbourne. In my experience, it’s mostly men, but I’ve always felt welcome and supported as a woman. The gear can get pricey.
posted by FencingGal at 5:42 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

parkrun, a running club and BookCrossing are the places I've found my people.
posted by LyzzyBee at 6:02 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Climbing and hiking groups are very friendly and lots of time for chatting on the way.
Same with running tho some are a bit competitive whereas parkrun and the ultra I did were very inclusive, welcoming and supportive.
posted by JonB at 6:11 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

The best friend-making activity I've found as an adult is joining a church (UU in my case, YMMV). Besides showing up every Sunday, there are a lot of different side groups to get involved in, and lots of social activities. I particularly like that I've made friends of a wide variety of ages.
posted by Fig at 6:37 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Swing dancing! I've heard good things about the scene in Melbourne too.
posted by diffuse at 6:41 AM on November 9, 2018

The Hash House Harriers ("A drinking club with a running problem") can be fun, and many aren't as alcohol-centric as they make themselves out to be.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Fitness oriented, and maybe not that useful for you if you're already a regular gym-goer, but some (not all) Curves locations have this kind of atmosphere. I've been to some Curves locations where everyone was really friendly and got to know each other -- one of the customers invited all the staff and some of the other customers to her wedding -- and they definitely noticed when you were not there. Others were less of that, unfortunately.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:52 AM on November 9, 2018

Geocaching! Surprisingly, besides going out to the woods to find Tupperware, the community puts out events where everyone is welcomed. Bonus – the age groups and levels of experience vary widely, so you end up socializing with people you’d normally not meet. First dose is free!
posted by Dotty at 6:57 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, I agree with Etrigan. The Hash. I hate them so much but still end up going all the time because they suck.you.in.
posted by whitewall at 6:57 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've found great friends playing pool in a pool league. Beginners are welcomed, and the coaching and camaraderie is great. Plus, pool league play is often hosted in local bars and clubs, so there's an instant social aspect. Melbourne appears to have a league: Melbourne Metropolitan Pool League.
posted by Ardea alba at 7:10 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've found a huge community of real -- and diverse -- friends through local road cycling groups here in Houston. If you're looking for exercise to go with your social-group, this might be worth checking out.
posted by uberchet at 8:23 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

Spouse of sol is big into training gym sports activities that are exactly like this. Cross Fit is the big name but there are many activites similar to it. Search for kettlebell, bootcamp, conditioning, metabolic conditioning or "metcon" and in general gyms that only do classes, have multiple classes per day, and have lots of open space instead of huge rows of cardio equipment.

I've heard that many of the smaller gyms that do class-based conditioning look down on Cross Fit as too competitive and not cooperative enough.

Spouse has made some of her best adult non-work friends at a gym like this who regularly worked out at the same early morning classes. Same with a local running club.

I love Yoga, but I disagree that it is a community building environment. All the yoga classes I've taken had minimal to no talking before or after and it would feel very out of place to strike up a conversation. If Yoga with camraderie is your thing maybe try yoga instructor training.
posted by sol at 8:45 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Joining a choir, especially one geared for regular competitions and performances.
posted by rollick at 8:53 AM on November 9, 2018 [2 favorites]

Craft clubs!
posted by Calzephyr at 8:53 AM on November 9, 2018

I played roller derby and also have done Crossfit (currently coach it but rarely do classes myself). They're very similar communities, although Crossfit has way less drama than derby, at least most of the time.
posted by Fuego at 9:27 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a good friend who has found a great community among female boxers and is having a great time.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:38 AM on November 9, 2018

Running groups or clubs, especially if you can find groups that lean towards recreational running rather than being competitive track & field clubs.
posted by penguin pie at 10:06 AM on November 9, 2018

Seconding Parkrun.
Also, OrangeTheory if there's one near you. Has some of the Cross Fit camaraderie without the intensity.
November Project's map is broken so I'm not sure whether Melbourne has any, but I love them for this.
posted by TravellingCari at 10:21 AM on November 9, 2018

I have a friend who has made a really good group of friends from doing olympic weightlifting. It's a little less agro than crossfit, from what I understand.
posted by radioamy at 11:10 AM on November 9, 2018

I've found "beer league" sports clubs can be a lot like this, particularly in the case of less formal sports that don't get televised - kickball, dodgeball, etc.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:24 PM on November 9, 2018

Amateur Radio!

I've made great friends on a local repeater, and we all talk to each other nearly every night. One can combine radios and hiking/biking quite easily, if you want more of an exercise component to it.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:29 PM on November 9, 2018

Indoor bouldering is good for this. You climb solo so you're not attached to a partner (literally) and most climbers are pretty friendly (and always willing to share 'beta', or how to do the route). Go regularly and you'll start seeing some of the same faces over and over again.
posted by invokeuse at 8:43 PM on November 9, 2018

+1 for Olympic lifting. At the one gym I know about, you either get on a MWF or a TThSa schedule, and then it's just the same faces three times a week. There's a lot of incidental interaction due to sharing bars and platforms, chitchat between sets, etc.

I watched a meet too. Super chill, super friendly. Lots of really strong guys who are perfectly happy to answer dumb questions. Lots of kids running around, actually. I couldn't tell if this was official or just a couple of parents having fun, but they had a <30 kg category with one little kid snatching a broomstick. He obviously won his weight class.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 9:31 PM on November 9, 2018

Women's Circus in Footscray has an amazing team and the whole women's circus community in general (so not just this circus but similar ones across the country) is very welcoming and open to all sorts of skill levels. And it's great exercise!
posted by divabat at 11:23 PM on November 9, 2018

Thanks everyone! I've marked some best answers for being particularly helpful or mentioning activities I'd be interested in trying, but all the others are great, too!

I'm not interested in running much, and can't do it right now because of shin splints, but it was a really common theme among the suggestions.

I also remembered some ideas of my own, thanks to these suggestions, too:

- Parkour (tried once but got hurt a lot, and there were only two of us, but a different class might be better)
- Pilates was mentioned once (I've considered trying it before and live around the corner from it now)
- I've heard of a non-religious church that aims to provide the same benefits of going to church to atheists but can't remember the name. I might try that too

Thanks again, everyone!
posted by bellebethcooper at 12:24 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

There's a women's only parkour group that meets in the city midweek (Tuesday/Wednesday?) And is free! Look up Girls of Melbourne Parkour on Facebook.
posted by divabat at 12:46 AM on November 11, 2018

The church you're thinking of is probably Unitarian Universalism (UU), as mentioned by Fig. I attended as a kid (my parents are both agnostic) and remember it being a very inclusive and welcoming community with a lot of events to get to know people outside of services. Would definitely recommend checking it out.
posted by ersatzhuman at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2018

This is the "church" I was thinking of: Sunday Assembly. It's a "godless congregation", or a secular, humanist gathering, I believe.
posted by bellebethcooper at 4:30 PM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

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