I’ve been a Twitter user since 2009. Even in the early days using the platform, I recognized that Twitter provided an opportunity for me to instantly connect with like-minded people who shared my interests, to benefit from the wisdom of others, and to build a community. Back then, I sought out other amateur writers in hopes to connect, learn, and slowly develop my skills toward better storytelling. Over the years since, as my interests and priorities have shifted, my network has grown to include comedians, analysts, husbands, and fathers with whom dialogue is ongoing — 140 characters at a time.
When we started Healthy Beacon last fall, and when we started making running and healthier habits part of our lifestyle choices, we were looking for that same connection to others. We were looking for people who shared our optimism and aspirations to raise healthy and happy kids and to be positive role models themselves. And beyond the friends and family we maintain locally to inspire us and guide us in the right direction, we have found new groups of people from around the world with experiences of their own from whom we can learn. Twitter has been a big part of that.
If you read my earlier post on YOU-app, you’ll know that one of the things that I really liked about the app was that it helped users take small achievable steps toward larger personal goals and connect with other people working toward those same goals. What I love about the communities we’ve found on Twitter are that they are similarly linking us to people with the same passions, working toward similar fitness and lifestyle goals who help each other achieve mini-milestones. They engage in open chat discussions and Q&A’s — through Twitter #hashtags — about successes, failures, and challenges, and offer a regular checkpoint to help community members take positive steps toward active and healthy living.
It’s my pleasure to share five of our favorite active Twitter chat #hashtags and the inspiring hosts that have grown them into vibrant and supportive communities.
WHEN: Tuesdays @ 6PM PST/9PM EST
When Joy and I got back into running more regularly and, particularly, when Joy decided to push beyond 10k to half-marathon distances, we found the #BibChat community as a fantastic group of racers who could share their experience on training, overcoming mental hurdles, and preventing injury. Julia from BibRave.com gave me some background on this active Twitter chat group, which started in early 2014 with the goal to grow a community of racers and runners that would support and encourage each other.
“We’ve heard newcomers refer to #BibChat as a ‘twitter party,’ and that’s exactly what we want. We want #BibChat to be a place runners come to connect, have fun, and hopefully take away a new training tip each week. We hope new participants feel the openminded-ness and support of the community. We love seeing tweets like ‘The #BibChat community gave me motivation to run today!'”
We’ve definitely found this to be true. The #BibChat group has proven to be honest and open both about their victories and their defeats. Despite being a community of racers, it’s not at all founded on competition or results. It’s a closely-knit group who seem driven to motivate one another and push everyone toward personal bests. And it’s this closeness that Julia regards as most valuable in her involvement.
“The biggest benefit has been all the relationships we’ve formed throughout the running community. #BibChat is such a fun way to engage with other runners, meet new people, and learn a ton – that’s definitely been the best part for us. We can’t wait for every Tuesday night!”
WHEN: Fridays @ 9AM PST/12PM EST
Before we had kids, Joy and I were taking full advantage of our proximity to the mountains and trails of southwest British Columbia. It’s been a few years since we have made good use of them, but now that the kids are getting a little bigger and able to walk a little while on their own, we hope to start getting them on the trails to explore.
#HikerChat was formed between TETON Sports and American Backcountry a few years ago and is an active community of backpackers who meet not only weekly on-line, but bi-annually in-person in conjunction with the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. Shawn from TETON Sports provided his take on what new members can gain from joining #HikerChat and what’s been most rewarding so far.
“I hope they see the wealth of knowledge and fun available to them. We have completely new people to hiking and the outdoors and extreme seasoned folks on there. We want people to ask questions and get answers while having fun and sharing adventure stories. Think of #HikerChat as a campfire at a basecamp with people who just finished the climb and people just coming in to do the climb gathering and sharing stories. It’s all laughs, good meals, and great people and that is the exact idea of #HikerChat.”
For Shawn, who was boarding a flight when we caught up with one another, whether traveling across the United States or around the world, he’s been able to link up with people from #HikerChat for an adventure or at the least some food and good stories. It’s one of the perks of having built up a global community on Twitter.
“It’s the ability to meet like minded people and to get excited about going out and doing bigger and better things. One person was toying around with hiking Mt. Shasta I believe and he talked about it on Twitter for about 8 months, at that point 4-5 people that have done Shasta jumped in and told him to just ‘Go!’, they gave him all sorts of information and motivation. I believe he’s headed up there now and totally prepped for it.”
WHEN: Sundays @ 7PM PST/10PM EST (first and third), 5PM PST/8PM EST (second and fourth)
Whether you’re running to race, or running just to get fit, there are groups on Twitter of similar-minded folks with similar aims. Like #BibChat, #RunChat connected us with a fantastic group of new and seasoned runners to learn from and share experiences with and many of the participants of these groups overlap. It’s this mixture of experience levels that co-host David told me makes the community so easy to join.
“No matter how long they’ve been running, and no matter where they are physically, #RunChat is a welcoming community. We’re all in this running journey together.”
The first #RunChat was held in June 2010 and beginning in 2012, they shifted to alternating weekly time slots. And like the other Twitter chat hosts, David and his #RunChat co-founder Scott are huge enthusiasts themselves, not just moderating discussions and posting questions, but chiming in with their own experiences and benefiting from their own involvement. Says David,
Personally it has helped me stay passionate about the sport. It’s very easy to get down at times I’ve been injured or just having some bad runs, but the online social media community of runners will always bring me back up.
For us, #RunChat continues to be a great discussion about training and personal improvement, injury prevention, proper technique and new gear to improve your experience; all the pieces that are key whether you’re racing against a clock or just against yourself.
WHEN: Thursdays @ 10AM PST/1PM EST
Another great community designed for lovers of the outdoors, the #TrailTime Twitter chat, hosted by the good people at Sierra Trading Post, kicked off in its current form in June of 2014. As Heidi told me, the hashtag and Twitter chat embodies much more than just hiking, it can encompass everything from spring skiing to post-adventure yoga to backpacking trips; anything that revolves around quality time outdoors.
“When new people stop by for a little #TrailTime chatter we hope they find a community of like-minded individuals who are ready and willing to help answer questions, share stories and encourage adventure. It is our goal to have the #TrailTime hashtag go beyond the weekly chat and provide people with an excuse to connect both online and offline. So far, this has been a great success as we’ve watched the real faces behind Twitter handles bond over shared experiences, sometimes even meeting up in real life to go exploring.”
One way that Sierra Trading Post keeps the Twitter chats fresh and vibrant is by inviting co-hosts to help lead discussion and field questions from the group. Adding new voices to moderate discussions ensures that the audience and expertise grows week to week.
“This is the beauty of the #TrailTime chat and having a wide variety of co-hosts. While we do have our core community that always shows up for chats and is quick to respond to tweets using the #TrailTime hashtag it is the co-hosts that are able to bring in new people.”
WHEN: Thursdays @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
But beyond being active and staying fit, Joy and I are always trying to learn more about how to fuel our bodies efficiently and nutritiously. In seeking out on-line communities that discuss topics related to nutrition and health, one that we’ve enjoyed participating in is #WellnessChat, which has been hosted by Sarah Stanley every Thursday since its inception in January 2011. An ultra-marathoner and with a lifetime of learning about organic foods and healthy living, Sarah launched #WellnessChat with a mission to “engage+encourage+educate”.
The education piece is what really sets this twitter chat apart from all the others out there. We hope that new participants to #WellnessChat are inspired to change their life for the better to and to learn something new about their overall wellness.
Beyond the Thursday Twitter chat sessions, each new month bring with it a full calendar of daily challenges designed to inspire, motivate and educate community members, and it seems to be having the desired effect.
It’s been wonderful to share a much-needed message of wellness truth to people all over the world and to be a part of their lives in this small way that has a huge positive impact.
We feel incredibly lucky to have so quickly found engaging and welcoming communities to be part of as we look to learn from and inspire others toward better health and fitness. And we’re sure the list of amazing Twitter communities founded on these principles doesn’t end here.
Drop us a note if we’ve missed someone in this list. And join us for one of these #hashtag Twitter discussions in the coming weeks.
Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.