When you go to the gym, are you all business with earphones in, avoiding eye contact? Or are you the social butterfly who never breaks a sweat because it takes an hour just to get out of the locker room?
It you’re in the first category, you’ve likely rolled your eyes a few times when someone in the second category is leaning against the machine you want to use. But don’t rush to be so judgemental – the chatterer might be onto something.
People are social creatures, and we need to interact with others for our mental well-being. Communication and human relations feed the soul, so why not get a little soul food while working out?
If you’re really not into small-talk, however, playing a competitive sport like tennis or squash as part of your exercise regime is a great way to socialize. The act of playing together allows two or more people to connect over a commonality, so you don’t need to force conversation to relate if that is out of your comfort zone.
Belonging to an athletic club that offers various amenities takes the socialization to an even more beneficial level. Families sitting around a swimming pool while the kids play and adults catch up teaches greater life lessons about human behaviour than does limiting your family’s exposure to the back yard, for instance.
People naturally want to be part of a group. They want to belong somewhere, and this is true even if your role in the group is to stay in the background and not say much.
Reach out. Connect. You need to do this for the sake of your overall health, so you might as well incorporate elements of socialization into your fitness routine. Even if you would prefer to keep your earphones in and stick to business, all it takes to connect is eye contact and a smile.