The Social Dimension of Fitness Centers
I recently joined a university-based fitness facility seeking a greater variety of activities and equipment that you can't get from exercising at home or outdoors, in hope of revitalizing a few sets of muscles that have been largely dormant for the last 20 years. The variety of equipment and activities offered at this facility has been a nice change of pace. I'm enjoying the freshness of new workout routines and am also discovering that the setting is good for the mind. Being around others who have a common interest in staying active brings a sense of social cohesion that you don't usually obtain from a workout in your basement or living room. Although everyone is intent on getting the workout done and there isn't much discourse between exercisers, in some odd way being in the company of others who have a common interest, ie., remaining active, gives one the sense of belonging.
|People with disabilities tend to feel more socially isolated|
There are millions of people, including many more with disabilities as noted in several research studies, who are socially disconnected. We were born with a genetic need for social comfort, starting with our caregivers and then finding others in the world that we could socially connect with. But somewhere along the way, many people have lost their social connection due to an illness, condition or disability. Today, millions of people fill that need through Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social internet sites that allow friends and family members to stay in touch with each other. Others call family and friends on a daily basic to keep the social connection alive.
Humans and other species have a genetic code that requires social connection. Dogs and cats, for example, lie next to their owners and move with them from room to room; lions graze on the side of mountains in packs even though they don't need to worry much about other predators; and even the homeless find their way in front of subway steps or busy sidewalks where thousands of people move about, foregoing a life of social isolation by tucking themselves away in some far off corner of town.
Perhaps that is one of the most important things that fitness centers can offer people with disabilities, a sanctuary for feeling like they are part of a group and that there is a dimension of connectivity that generates physiological harmony within themselves and their surroundings.