Working out and writing have always helped me process what’s going on in my life. I’ve barely published a thing, and I doubt you’ll see me entering any sporting event such as a 5K or softball league (my instinct is to run away from any flying ball, and I believe I’m completely justified).
But when I exercise, I push myself to do something that I didn’t think I could do, and gaining strength from that helps me in my everyday life. When I write, to use words from a Coldplay song, I “get lost and then get found” as I struggle with putting words on paper.
I bring up writing and working out because with writing, I’ve always wanted a critique partner, or a writing group. I keep writing, despite my lack of kindred spirits to share my words with, but I continue to think that I would benefit from meeting with other writers.
With exercising, it never occured to me to have a workout buddy. I think this is because I don’t completely understand what my role as a workout buddy is. I’m extremely intraverted, so thinking that going to the gym, or running along side someone else entails socializing makes me nervous. I don’t want to talk while I’m working out. I don’t think I’m able to talk while I’m working out. Also, am I supposed to cheer the other person on? Harass her with phone calls when she doesn’t meet me at the gym? What if she wants to stay and do an ab workout, and I want to go home, and on the way stop at the Royal Bakery?
I was interested in what other DC area women think about workout partners, and how they motivate themselves to continue working out, so I asked a few of my friends. Jeannine, who lives in Germantown, Maryland jokes, “I don’t have a workout buddy. I’ve tried using my husband, but to be honest, he annoys me when I’m working out – he tries to talk to me and I don’t want to talk.” She adds, however, that they make bets with each other as motivation. “Jason and I are both very competitive. He’ll tell me that there’s no way I’m getting up early to workout, and I’ll tell him ‘Yeah? You want to bet?’ We’ll bet something stupid, such as who does the dishes that night. I always know he’s doing it just to actually get me up, but I still get sucked in because I hate to lose.”
Jill, a resident in Silver Spring, uses her husband as motivation as well. “He’s always good with the, ‘You’ll feel better if you workout’ kind of talk.” Jill finds that communicating to Matt that she wants to be disciplined about working out, helps him encourage her. “He keeps me thinking on the right track of what I want for myself.”
Erin, another resident in Germantown, loves having workout partners. She says, “It is helpful to chat with someone when you honestly hate to work out. If I don’t have someone to talk to, I watch TV. I’ve even been known to watch sports just to pass the time!” Erin says having someone else to talk with makes the workout go by much faster.
All three of these women know what works for them, and found ways to use others in their lives to continue exercising. I think it’s important to do whatever is helpful in order to stay on an exercise schedule.
My husband and I used to live in South Bend, Indiana. He was a graduate student at Notre Dame, and because we were married, I was able to take classes at the gym on campus. I made a friend in those classes I took at Notre Dame. She was another grad student’s wife, and even before we started chatting, I would make sure to always set my step up close to hers. It was kind of comforting to stand next to someone who was the same age as me. Don’t get me wrong, I could keep up with those undergrads, but their ponytails were just a little perkier, and their workout outfits were just a little cuter. And not that there wasn’t stress in the life of an undergrad, but my soon-to-be friend and I were working girls. I had a feeling that when she was working out she was letting go of similar things as I was, and that encouraged me to workout harder.
Carrie and I became fast friends, and I found out we had a lot in common. We both worked with middle school students – she a social worker, and I a teacher – and we were quite passionate about empowering this age group. We were both disciplined with just about everything in our lives. To know someone else who sought freedom in goals, lists, and schedules, was very comforting to me. I suppose Carrie became my workout partner. There were times when I would drive home after a hard day and think that I’d rather just watch Oprah, but I knew Carrie was at the gym, and I would steer the car towards Touchdown Jesus.
Carrie was the ideal workout partner for me. We didn’t need to talk, but for an hour several days a week we stood by each other and pushed ourselves to be a little faster, jump a little higher, lift a little more.
Now if only Carrie were a writer. And lived in DC. Then, I’d be golden.