Happiness Is…a Workout Buddy

two-women-running-at-sunset-sunriseLast year shortly after we launched Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty, I blogged about my strong preference for working out alone.  Back then, I said:

When I see packs of runners going by, I occasionally feel a bit of envy for the camaraderie, but my more visceral reaction is aversion. Why? Because I love this time alone. I have always sought solitude and silence, and running is a perfect opportunity for it.

But slowly over the course of this year, without even realizing it, I’ve developed a real love for spending my workout time with others. I’ve even got some regular “buddies” now.

When I was a kid in swimming lessons, we were taught early on about “the buddy system.” They told us to always swim with a friend.  Of course, safety was the main concern, but that’s not the only reason to do things with others. Samantha has sung the praises of working out with other people. That’s totally her style.

I didn’t realize that in lots of ways it has become mine too.  I’ve got three regular “buddies” these days: a yoga buddy, a walk/run buddy, and a Y buddy.

My yoga buddy, Jenn, has been in the  Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. Iyengar class with me for years. In Iyengar yoga, there’s lots of work with partners.  Most of the time, Jenn and I partner up for those parts of class. But we’ve also become friends over the years. Last winter she took a break from the early morning class and switched to a different time.  I felt the loss.  This week I went to the Tuesday morning class and there she was!  Happy day! Jenn is back.

Through the summer, we spend a lot of time on our sailboat. When we aren’t on our month in the North Channel, we go to our home port of Bayfield every weekend through the season.  My walk/run buddy Laurie and I have been meeting for Saturday morning walks and talks, followed by a cafe latte in the cool garden at DaVinci’s on Main Street, every Saturday through the summer for a number of years now.

I’ve always loved our walks and talks.  Just recently, Laurie has gotten back into running after a long hiatus, so our walks have turned into walk-runs.  It’s wonderful to run with a friend, much easier to do the “talk-test” when you’re actually talking. And the time just flies by. And I am much less likely to walk when I’m supposed to be running if I’m with Laurie.  This coming weekend is our last weekend in Bayfield before haul-out. I’m really going to miss my Saturday mornings with Laurie.

When I was a graduate student I had an awesome workout buddy, Diane. We used to hit the gym four times a week for about three hours. We spent a lot of time together outside the gym too, and workouts just became an extension of the continuous conversation Diane and I always seemed to be engaged in.

So I am delighted to report that Tara (of the first 5K and the triathlon that wasn’t) just joined the Y, where I’ve been doing Nia Shanks’ Beautiful Badass workouts every Monday and Wednesday, so far all alone.  I’ve been pretty motivated, but now that Tara has decided to meet me in the weight room for my BB weight training, I’m just plain excited.  It’s been over 25 years since I had a regular workout buddy at the gym.  And I remember it being a lot easier to lift heavy weights with a friend than alone.  And I’m really looking forward to spending more time with Tara, doing something that makes us stronger.

Also exciting: as Sam mentioned, I’m about to buy a road bike. I will be relying heavily on Sam for instruction, guidance, and riding buddies when I do!

I didn’t really expect or plan for this change of attitude. But I have to say that at the moment, I’m just loving the opportunity to combine friendships with my activities.  I’ve got a whole new appreciation of the buddy system.

8 thoughts on “Happiness Is…a Workout Buddy

  1. Nice! I’m curious though, to what do you attribute the change in attitude? Does it accompany the change from thinking of working out in terms of body improvement? Or is it about something else? Maybe we’ll even get you playing a team sport someday! 🙂

    For me there’s somethings I do alone, hiking and jogging with dogs for example. But I hardly ever ride my bike by myself. Even something awful, like hill repeats, are better shared.

    1. I think part of the change is realizing it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s nice to switch it up. But also, there are some things that I too prefer doing with others. Working out with weights, for example, is a lot more enjoyable with another person. Maybe the change has something to do with changing goals. But maybe it also has to do with the fact that I feel so busy that doing things with other people is a nice way to combine social time with workout time!

  2. I know I’ve somewhat changed my attitude about exercising – from it being a mission of some sort on which I had to go alone in some ways (probably for me because it was doctor-ordered at first, but not really any longer as all my “readings” now are fine and I’ve actually been told they resemble those of a much younger athletic person – yay! thank goodness! – although I am told I should keep up whatever I’m doing) to something that I just do now, albeit in a committed manner, as simply a part of my relatively busy life. I think I exercised to live; then this turned into a mission – such that I then lived to exercise; only now is exercising becoming simply a part of my life. I don’t know exactly what has changed for you, Tracy, if much anything, but it sort of sounds like you also might be in the process of making exercise just a part of your life – as it is no longer “all or nothing” and because you can now integrate it with socializing. Does this have the ring of truth to it in any way, or perhaps I am just projecting?

  3. Enjoyed your post, Tracy! It’s so good to remind us that we can combine fitness and friendship, and that each can enhance the other. I walk regularly with friends around Fresh Pond Reservoir in Cambridge or at the Belmont conservation lands. I bike with friends some, but often my schedule dictates that I cycle alone (since I am not an early riser). Both are satisfying in different ways. But reading your post, I’m feeling like I might reach out a bit more (an maybe try to get up a little earlier for those morning rides).

    When you are about to get that road bike, how about do a post before buying or about the process of buying? I know many women who find bike shopping daunting (and y’all have posted about these issues a lot, which helps), and documenting your experiences would, I bet, be really useful for your readers.


    1. Thanks, Catherine. It’s funny you should mention blogging about the shopping experience. I had my shop picked out (where I got my commuter bike) and Sam was going to come with me. Then she had the idea of having me blog about shopping for a bike and has assigned me the task of going alone to two shops to compare the experience and what they recommend. One is my original shop (excellent place with a range of bikes) and the other is a shop that caters to high end serious cyclists. So yes. Blog post coming once I manage to get out. Maybe this week if I can get all set for my classes, which also start this week! Thanks for the tips about sprints too. I feel like that’s something I can work with!

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