To most people, #FitFab40s is just another hashtag. But to the nearly 5,000 members of the Facebook group of the same name–all of which are women–it symbolizes strength, support and community. Oh, and did we mention they're all over 40?
A little over 14 months ago Casey Deneau, a 43-year-old nurse practitioner from San Diego, decided she needed to up her game on her Peloton bike. Feeling a little unmotivated by the range of riders on the leaderboard, Deneau started filtering her rides with one simple phrase: "female, 40."
This allowed her to start exercising with women around her age and fitness level. As a result, she started seeing some of the same names appear during the rides. Wanting more of a connection, Deneau put a message on the official Peloton page asking if any other riders do the same thing. To her surprise, the comments started pouring in, and FitFab40s was born.
The Rise of Online Fitness Communities
The appeal of online fitness communities is growing. For many of us, joining an in-person group is not an option. With an online group, you have instant access to the support, motivation and accountability you need to keep yourself going.
So many of these groups start with a fitness theme but morph into something so much more. That's the case for Deneau and FitFab40s. "I am an introvert and have a lot of insecurities," she says. "I get up early and pour my heart and soul into this group. I beam with pride when I speak of these women; many I've never met." For Deneau, this group is proof that women can lift each other up.
For 41-year-old Jenny Tustin of Missouri, finding FitFab40s means she's found her tribe. "The women in this group strengthen me every day," she says. The appeal for her is a strong sense of community. An avid runner (four full marathons and 22 half marathons), she felt like something was missing when she started riding her Peloton bike at home. She realized the missing piece was the community feeling. But after joining FitFab40s, Tustin says she now communicates daily with several members she met from the group.
Forty-seven-year-old Julie Rauch of New York couldn't agree more. "It's like one giant family," she says. "The women are all amazing and share everything from their fitness journey to their personal lives." Rauch credits the friendliness, motivation, accountability and inspiration of the group as one of the main reasons she stays committed to a fitness lifestyle.
The Crossover of Online and Real Life
It's not just virtual interactions that happen as a result of these fitness communities. Like so many other online groups, Deneau is always looking for ways to help members connect in person. Whether it's organized get togethers in cities across the country or the upcoming HRI (Home Rider's Invasion) at the New York Peloton studio, solidifying these online relationships in person is just one more way to strengthen the bond between members who log-on daily for a dose of support, friendship and encouragement.
If you're looking to join an online fitness community, there are a few things to consider. "The group should share a common goal," she says. This can help you stay accountable while giving and receiving a whole lot of support. That said, it can be difficult to know which group you will click with. Deneau recommends looking for a group that shares the same goal as you.
And when you feel comfortable, she says to consider opening up and sharing your insecurities, hurdles and goals. "Making ourselves vulnerable allows for more connections with others who can relate to our experiences, which can ultimately lead to life-long friendships."