|Picture credit: Skinny Mom|
When Bry and I lived in Lansing some years ago, I exercised a lot but I did it alone for the most part. I would fit my exercise into whatever my schedule of college classes was and all my friends at MSU each had their own crazy schedule and work load it seemed. Bry would join me on occasion but he was working full time -and- finishing his own degree. All of that was okay though, I didn't mind working out alone. I'd go out for a long power walk and I'd have my MP3 player strapped to my arm and it was good. Incidentally, that thing was huge. I'm surprised I wasn't walking in a circle because of the added weight...but hey, it was 2004 and technology has come a very long way since then. I really didn't mind exercising by myself at the time, but I think I would now. I've gotten very very used to exercising with other people thanks to Zumba.
When I first started Zumba 3.5 years ago it was with apprehension and trepidation, so I didn't want to invite a friend along and embarrass myself in front of them. After a couple of classes I realized that regardless of my own ability (or lack thereof...), Zumba was something special and awesome and I felt compelled to share this fact with all and sundry. If you ask any friend of mine about me, she'll tell you, "Oh her? Yeah it's always Zumba-this and Zumba-that."
I asked them to join me on multiple occasions and got a couple of them to give it a shot with me. But everyone is different, and for their own reasons (legitimate ones, not the crappy excuse kind...) they decided it wasn't for them, or maybe not something they could do all the time the way I did. And that was okay. It just meant that I was back to working out alone. Except for that I wasn't really alone. I was in a room full of other
"Strike up a conversation at the gym. You know that woman who is frequently on the treadmill next to you? The one you also see in your yoga class? Talk to her! Chances are that if you’re running into each other on a regular basis you’ve got some common interests. Move your yoga mat next to hers at your next class, or greet her when you see her on the treadmill. You never know, she could become a BFF!"
Okay, so treadmills and yoga mats don't apply in Zumba, but the general concept is the same. You keep going to the same Zumba teacher's classes, you're going to run into a lot of the same people repeatedly. For me, that's exactly what happened. I am one of those freak students (every teacher has at least one if not a few...) that will show up to class each week no matter what the weather, no matter if there's a holiday that weekend. Basically, no matter what. It could be raining brimstone on the July 4th, and I'd still show up for class. Hrmm, raining brimstone? Guess I'd better grab a hoodie on my way out the door... As I said, every teacher has a few, I wasn't Rae's only "die hard" as she called us. Before Jae was herself a teacher (...my teacher), she was my fellow classmate, and like me, she was pretty much always there every week.
Having a friend like her to be fit with has had a profound impact on me. I'm 32 and I'm in better shape today than I have ever been. Much better shape than when I was 23 and going on power walks alone. Having a fit friend means that someone is there supporting you and your goals and that you in turn are supporting theirs. Having a fit friend means sharing similar goals, and that you're walking the road to greater health together. Aren't all journeys more fun with a friend along?
Best advice: Don't let pride get in your way, get a fit friend. Let go of worry about being embarrassed or judged and get a fit friend. It matters, it works, and it's way more worthwhile than going it alone. I for one, am never going back to going solo.