Sunday, August 8, 2010

Friends are key to fitness success

Experts agree that having exercise buddies increase the chances of sustaining a fitness program. My own experience bears this out.  In 2008 I took the Rocketchix Triathlon challenge to go from “couch potato to triathlete in 8 weeks.” Three years later I’m still at it. My stick-with- it secret? Exercise buddies.

So here’s to my exercise friends! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

Studies show that those who exercise with friends increase their chances of staying with exercise. At last week's Rocketchix Triathlon the "FitBirds" challenged and cheered each other on to the "Fastest Team Award."
Exercise buddies keep me accountable. When I stay up a little too late and the morning come a little too early, it would be easy for me to roll over, hit snooze and skip the workout. Knowing my training friends are going to be waiting for me provides just the push I need mentally to get out of bed. Of course knowing the onslaught of encouraging (read: snarky) texts and emails is also a motivator to get moving.

Exercise buddies challenge me physically. The accountability doesn’t stop with just showing up. When we are completing a workout, my fitness friends make me push harder than I would on my own. While I might walk instead of run if I’m by myself, if my friends are running, unless I’m hurt, I’m running too. On periodic fitness tests, my times are frequently better if I was out there with a friend.

Training buddies can both pace and push me through workouts and competition. At Rocketchix, I started in the pool 5 seconds ahead of the Coug. She paced on me for a few laps then made her move. Later, she returned the favor on the run.
Exercise buddies inspire me and increase my mental toughness. Connecting with the other women lifts my spirits. When I’m down on myself, I can talk to my fitness buddies and feel better. When I watch the ladies I’ve trained with reach their goals, I am inspired to reach my goals. When I watch my friends face adversity and overcome, I am reminded to be grateful for my many blessings, appreciate their strength and to dig deep when my own times of challenge come.
We're all in this together! When the going gets rough, fitness friends encourage, inspire and celebrate achievements.
Exercise buddies keep me safe. When we cycle as a group, I think we are much easier to spot. We point out obstacles and make a point to call out oncoming traffic (“car back”). If we have a little mishap or a flat, it’s nice to have some company. Of course when a dog runs into my front tire while I’m clipped and going 17 mph … that’s a story for another day, but suffice it say, my friends are important in that they can literally pick me up, dust me off and put me back on the bike.

Excercise buddies expand my friendship circle. With exercise as a common bond, I develop friendships with women of many ages, backgrounds and careers that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the chance to make. It’s comforting to have friends 10 years or more my senior inspire and educate me with their experience while those 10 years my junior keep me hip and feeling younger (or at least connected to youth).

Exercise friends put the FUN in functional movement! 8 mile long run? Well, meet me at the ½ way point and we’ll drop my van with ice chest, ice and drinks. That’ll give us aid station. Scary open water swim out of town? Pack a goody bag with magical healthy treats, freshly printed open water swimming tips and a new neoprene cap for my buddy and me (in a gift bag with tissue of course), trip to the yacht club before and plans for chinese food after. No longer a scary open water swim, but an ADVENTURE! Need to give our fitness a serious boost? BAM! Training camp at a fitness friend's beach condo. When we exercise together, the time passes faster.

What do I get from all this consistent exercise? A stronger, faster, healthier and happier me! All with a little help from my friends.
Exercise buddies transform a scarry open water swim into a road trip adventure complete with snacks!


  1. Love it! You, my friend, are so right about friends helping to get each other through training. I'll never forget the time you were injured and couldn't run, but stayed the entire two hour run to coach me, push me, and hand me water. That workout would never have been completed without you there. It's an interesting dynamic... the ying and the yang, one to lead and one to follow. We push each other, compete, but still love to see the other succeed. I truly enjoy the meaningful and personal conversations I have had while training. I don't think many of those conversations would ever have occurred without those opportunities. Thanks friend!

  2. What true observations. I think many, many more women (and men) would enjoy exercising if they had the fun we did while doing it. There is much truth in the saying "misery loves company," and but I have to admit nothing (so far) has been absolutely miserable for me as long as I have you friends by my side. Here's to many more decades of good workouts, good friends, and good food!