Endless Summer 2018
Tribe It, You’ll Like It
Joining Groups is Good for You, In and Out of the Gym
By Michael W. Hauf
There are many records in early colonial history of settlers defecting to join Native American society, so much that it became a major issue for colonial leaders. Guards were often posted to stop the outflow, and Pilgrims were so afraid of Native American influence that long hair was outlawed.
Ben Franklin stated that “No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bear to live in our societies.” That’s probably why he drank so much beer – to bear colonial life.
What was it that was so enticing about joining a tribe? And, more important, how can it get me a six-pack and bulging biceps?
“Tribe” is a popular buzzword these days, not just in the fitness industry but in pop culture in general. With good cause. There are many benefits to joining or even creating your own tribe and it can be a major contributing factor in reaching your goals. A tribe is generally a group of people linked by a common interest, ideology, culture, etc. Vegans are a tribe. Your family is a tribe. Your group of friends who go to Fred’s to lose at Quizzo and drink margaritas is a tribe.
In fitness (and Quizzo), a tribe can provide accountability, motivation and support. If you have a group of people with whom you are going to train on a consistent basis, you are setting the expectation that you are going to be there for your training sessions. You are going to be there to support your group and the group is going to be there to support you. You create that sense of responsibility and become someone to rely on.
This helps you maintain your own consistency, which is a very important part of reaching goals.
Finding a solid support system within your tribe can lead to much more than simply not missing a training session. By opening up to people in your tribe, you might find that we are all much more alike than we think. Many of us have the same fears, and when we share those fears with each other they tend to not carry as much weight as they used to. Getting them out in the open can relieve that stress, and you will find that many are right there with you. When you determine you have a common fear, you can discuss how to get past that fear and lend support when one falters. You may be able to broaden your knowledge by discussing someone else’s past trials and tribulations.
No matter what kind of shape they are in, everyone I train in my gym is there for the same reason, whether they know it or not – to get better.
A tribe provides a safe place for you to be who you want to be without judgment. That’s why we need to have many tribes in our lives. There is probably not one tribe that is going to support everything you want to be. There are going to be people who do not understand your goals, and that’s OK.
Your tribe of margarita drinkers might not understand your desire to run that marathon, but that does not mean you should give up your tequila. You should find or create another tribe that does understand that goal and can help you reach it. Your tribe of marathon runners might not understand your Quizzo tribe, but the runners should understand that tribe relies on you as well. Those margaritas aren’t going to drink themselves.
We might need to find a sense of belonging in a community before we can discover ourselves. Finding a like-minded group can give us a sense of validity in who we are.
Says Australian professor Dr. Peter Leeson: “There’s a whole range of research that suggests that if we have peers that support us, who we feel we can turn to, and who share our values and beliefs, then that is related to better health, and lower levels of anxiety and stress.”
Being a part of a tribe not only can help us reach specific goals but also helps us become healthier in general.
To get the most out of fitness (and life), join a tribe. Join a book club at the library, take a cooking class at Luciano’s, take a barre class. If you can’t find a tribe that supports your goals or ideologies, create one. There are definitely people out there with the same values, you just have to find them.
What we can achieve as a group will be vastly more than what we can achieve as individuals. With the amount of overwhelming evidence in support of tribal living, it seems like common sense.
Ben Franklin also said, “If your head is made of wax, don’t walk in the sun.” I’m sure his tribe of beer drinkers supported him completely.
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