When it comes to fitness, there’s a great deal of value in making sure your goals and approach are tailored to what you need as an individual. But that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. An online fitness community is a fantastic way to stay connected and motivated.

“Just because you might be doing a workout alone in your living room doesn’t mean you’re on your own,” says Openfit Live Trainer Sarah Soares. “Having a community, like you’ll find with Openfit, gives you the feeling of working together, and that provides a ton of motivation. It also makes working out more fun.”

3 Benefits of an Online Fitness Community
An online fitness community can take many forms — from built-in social networks in fitness apps to to dedicated Facebook groups. Here are some key reasons why it’s worth making the connection:

1. Promote motivation and accountability
As Soares notes, being part of a group can be highly motivating. That’s crucial because research shows that you need both internal and external sources of support to make exercise habits stick.

Called intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, studies report they both offer some fuel for your workout fire. Determination and willpower are key, but having that external support in the form of a fitness community can be a powerful way to focus on and progress toward your goals.

“When you feel like someone else is paying attention, you push yourself a little more,” says Soares. “And, in turn, you support others to push themselves, too.”

2. Share challenges and advice
We all struggle at some point, Soares notes. Maybe you don’t feel a sense of progress like you did when you started, or you have a certain fitness goal that seems just as far away as ever. That’s a great time to tap into your online fitness community.

“Someone else has been where you are, and that can be a big comfort,” she says. “Not only can your community give you advice on potential next steps, but just knowing people who’ve had the same challenges and gotten past them can make you feel better.”

Being on the other side of that — as someone who’s helping a community member get through a struggle you’ve had — can also be very gratifying, she adds. You’re making a difference in someone’s life, and that’s yet another way to feel motivated.

3. Get your social fix
Let’s face it. The pandemic has been tough on social connections even with Zoom calls and outdoor, socially distanced meetups. But maintaining a feeling of community with others is incredibly important — not just for fitness goals, but also for your mental health, says Sharon McDowell Larsen, PhD, an exercise physiologist and coach at the Center for Creative Leadership.

“Part of the reason group fitness in a class setting works so well is that you feel the emotional lift that comes with sharing a goal and an activity with other people,” she says, adding that you can feel that same surge of connection in an online setting as well.

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