As an overweight and uncoordinated child, I loathed PE (that’s what we call gym class in Ireland).
I was your stereotypical, always-picked-last, insecure, chubby-cheeked and awkward teenager….and it sent me into an I-hate-exercise mindset that would last the next 15 years.
Fast forward almost two decades and I’m a grown-ass woman with a grown-ass gym membership card!
These days I like to get to the gym about three times a week. I take two classes (Pilates and strength training) and have finally found my exercise sweet spot.
But what really keeps me on track and accountable are the ladies I train with. Yep, I finally got me some gym buddies.
Apparently I’m in the minority though – a study released this week shows that 77% of Americans aged between 24 to 44 work out at least once a week, and prefer to do it alone.
Despite the misleading headline on this post, I don’t think they’re crazy. I salute them for exercising at all. They are obviously smart people concerned about their health and yes, I’ve done my fair share of lonely exercising and can appreciate the advantages BUT my exercise routine got a lot more fun when I found my small community at the gym, and here’s why:
1. Gym buddies make you up your game
If you’re the competitive sort, working out next to a woman who can pull off a shoulder stand on a BOSU ball and look bored doing it is going to get you fired up in a way that exercising alone can’t match.
The ladies that are regulars in my classes are fitter, stronger and more flexible than me…and I love it. Watching them roll through the moves is incredibly inspiring. I look at them (out of the corner of my eye so I don’t seem like too much of a creeper) and think: “I want to do that!”
2. They’re a ready support system
I don’t know my gym buddies surnames, I don’t meet them outside of the gym and I’ve only a passing knowledge of their lives but once inside the gym, we’re buds. If one of us flubs a move, the others are there with encouragement, cajoling and (in some cases) tough love.
The right gym buddies can be more supportive than a good sports bra.
3. They will celebrate your achievements with you
You can go home and tell your significant other (or your pet…I always like to fill Dog in on what’s going on in my life) about that extra minute in plank, or finally mastering a pull-up but no-one gets it like the people who’ve seen you exercise day in and day out, know your progress and cheered you on.
Those people will be there when you nail that elusive Wicked Wiper and make performing a simple bodyweight exercise feel like summiting Everest.
4. They keep you accountable
My Pilates class starts at 6:30am so it’s not for the fainthearted. I started just over a year ago and noticed that there were two regulars who showed up without fail, no matter the weather, how tired they seemed or if it was a public holiday. These ladies were obviously committed.
I’m now happy to say that I’ve become one of the regulars. Most mornings it’s just the three of us and knowing that they show up, makes me want to show up.
5. Buddies make it fun
This one’s a little obvious, but worth a mention because it’s so crucial to a good workout. The class that makes you laugh, is the class you want to keep attending.
A few mornings ago, us Pilates ladies got the giggles while performing the most unladylike squats I’ve ever seen – butt pushed way out, arms in the air and some theatrical sound effects from the instructor that pushed us over the edge. It was possibly the most fun you can have in chair pose.
And, as a bonus, laughter is great for the abs.
Weigh in: Do you prefer exercising alone or with friends? Have you a good group of gym buddies? Are you surprised at the results of the study? Can you do the Wicked Wiper?