NOTE: I had originally started writing this as a comment on my blog post “Come in From the Cold” but I wound up typing so much I thought it would be better as a standalone post. Also of interest is my more recent post, “The Value of Small Groups.”
Just about everyone has been really, really great with comments and interaction on the blog lately. Thank you guys so much for being part of the big push to build the community here.
A lot of people are interested, but some seem to be doubtful about whether we can build the TYPE of community that I’m looking for…that neighborhood feel where everyone kinda knows each other.
I got an interesting email that I thought I would share with you. Check it out.
I was going to comment on your last blog, but I didn’t want to ruin the vibe I know you’re trying to create. I wanted to let you know that I think you’re right on most counts and that having more people post will make the blog more successful. I don’t know how much you can expect people to really bond though. Chances are they will respond to each other’s comments on the blog posts (although a forum type set-up might be better) but I think it probably isn’t going to be the kind of environment you say you want…people aren’t going to friend each other on Facebook and probably won’t correspond outside of the blog. It would be cool, but we’re not going to become friends. Although I guess we’re all friends with YOU and that counts for something.
I’ll definitely comment on the blog posts and I respect that you want to help people, I just don’t want to get your hopes up.
Well, I guess I sort of asked for some people who disagree to come out of the woodwork.
First and foremost: I think you have a point that forum lends itself a bit better community experience, if only because it allows members to create threads and topics and sort build interaction without me. I will, if there is enough interest, I’d love to build a forum section of this site.
Now, regarding building relationships in general, I have a story to share with you.
I want to point out, it was on a site very much like this that my passion for training was fueled, and through which I actually met some of my best friends in the world.
A little less than 10 years ago, T-Nation.com was called T-Mag.com, and the forum there was like a second home to me. As a young up-and-coming trainer, I loved that the magazine was full of innovative training ideas and cutting-edge nutrition information from some of the most prominent strength coaches and fitness writers in the world. In fact, it still is; I’m lucky enough to now count myself amount them, and write pretty frequently for the magazine.
However, the value of the site was not just in the articles—the forums were a huge help. It was a place where other fitness writers and trainers were hanging out, discussing ideas, and contributing to the knowledge pool. The articles were incredible, but very static; the forum, on the other hand, was active—it was dynamic and living, constantly being updated and added to by the authors, editors and readers.
At that time, the articles (and studies they sited) were probably as helpful to me as my official academic training for fitness (meaning both university courses and self-study and certification materials), but the forum really contributed to shaping my ideas and geared my thought process in an entirely different direction.
Threads on that message board were like conversations, and in such conversations with a few other frequent forum posters, I learned and shared some ideas.
It turned out Joel lived in New Jersey, and Eric Chessen and lived I on Long Island, so we decided to meet up in NYC one day, and history was made. We became friends instantly. A few months later, we met up in Maine with Cressey, and the four of us have been friends since then.
A quick reminder—this is 8 years ago, before things like “meet-ups” and “tweet-ups” were popular, and before Internet culture had really taken root to the degree it has now. At that point, it was still very much ‘weird’ to make meet people you met online. However, despite the fact that it was considered a bit unusual at that time, we were all so into what we were learning from each other that we put aside convention and just went with it…which turned out to be one of the best decisions any of us has ever made.
Since that time, we’ve all helped each other in many respects, both personally and professionally as we’ve all grown.
Of course, we’ve all taken different paths—Joel went into tradition publishing at first. Tremendously successful, his first book was published when he was 24. He’s still one of the youngest fitness authors ever published.
I wrote here and there, but did some fitness modeling, and then dedicated my business to training up and coming models and actors.
Cressey decided to focus on athletes, and later, to narrow his focus more on baseball (he currently runs a facility in Hudson, MA, and is one of the most sought-after baseball experts in the world). I’ve told you about him recently. (His recently released training program, “Show and Go” is one of the most valuable training recourses you can get your hands on. I posted an interview with him about it here).
Chessen went a completely different route, and now is the preeminent expert in the world on fitness for the Autism population. His website has tons of information for people involved with or affected by Autism, and he’s more of a resource to those people than nearly anyone else.
So first we were a bunch of weird kids into weights who became friends on the Internet. I assume some people thought that was silly—just as the person who wrote the email implies that some of YOU might think its silly to become friends with other members of this community.
Well, going back to my little example, now, we are some of the most popular fitness writers, bloggers and trainers in the world. More importantly, as we’ve helped with each other’s successes, we’ve also built strong personal and professional networks.
Will that happen to all of you? Possibly. I’m not sure. What I AM sure of, though, is that the more you participate and get to know each other, and the more you get emotionally involved in the success of this community, the better off you’ll be and the more help you’ll give and get.
My point is this: you have no idea just HOW POWERFUL taking part in this community can be. You don’t realize how much impact you can have on the lives of others, and how much this site can have an impact on yours—how much a part of your life it can become if you let it.
Sure, you may not meet your best friend, but I know for a fact that you can find people with common interests, and start building relationships with each other that WILL help you achieve your goals.
So start talking. Please know that I’m behind you, and here to help facilitate your fitness goals, as well as give you a place to help others. And a place to build the relationships that will carry you well beyond your immediate goals.
Have you met friends (fitness or otherwise) online?
I need your help! Post below* and let me know if I’m right about this!
*NOTE – keep in mind what I discussed in “Come in from the Cold” – I need your help. We had an agreement, so drop some comments!