With a little help from my friends…

For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing something I’ve never been comfortable with before – I’m training with friends.

There have been times in the past when I’ve had regular walking dates with a friend, one on one, and I do my five at five (5kms at 5am) with my husband each workday, but mostly I’ve preferred to do my real exercise – the huffing and puffing and lifting things exercise – on my own or in a class.

There are reasons for it. I’ve never been the type to travel (so to speak) with a posse, I feel more comfortable with just a few like-minded people. As for girls weekends away? Yeah, not for me – unless I have my own room and space to retreat.

Mostly though, I’ve always been aware of my own shortcomings from a physical viewpoint. An asthmatic, I was never one for running and jumping and was always the last person to be picked for school sports, and the absolute last one home in running races and cross country. 

I was, however, at home in the pool. In the water, I didn’t feel clumsy or heavy or not good enough. In the water, I could hold my own. In the water, I was never last, and I was never embarrassed. In the water, there wasn’t a team I could let down. 

Then in my twenties, I discovered aerobics and fell in love.It’s more correct to say I discovered aerobics because I fell in love. 

When Grant and I were first dating he was playing sport every day of the week. If it involved a team and a ball, he was there. I very quickly learnt I had a choice – I could sit around and wait for him to come home, or I could get active.

The gym didn’t do it for me, but aerobics did. Although I’d always known I was clumsy and graceless, here were steps I could master to music that I loved. Best of all, it was individual and I could show up (or not) as I chose. Low impact, step, pump, combat – I loved it all.

The thing is, I’m used to doing things for myself and by myself. I don’t do teams and I don’t commit to working with others in any environment where I might possibly let somebody else down. 

Things are, however, changing.

Last year I joined a group of women for a weekly zoom call. Then I joined an online book club. Now I’m collaborating with another friend on a new writing project I’m super excited about.

I’ve committed to show up twice a week to an online group strength/cardio training session – and two months in I’m loving it and am feeling stronger in mind, body and spirit. The workouts are mixed up, we all support each other, there’s no judgement, and there are no egos. We might each have different goals and reasons for being there, but we’re a team.

On top of that, I weigh in weekly with my Kiwi bestie and have joined in with my sister-in-law in Steptember – a challenge to walk 10,000 steps every day in September.

Rather than feeling trapped or anxious by the commitments, or afraid of failure, I’m feeling supported by my friends. It even occurred to me that while I’ve always tried to be available to support others, I’ve never allowed anyone to support me. Now, there’s a breakthrough. And the other penny drop? I’ve realised that I quite like it. Who would have thought it?

I am, of course, still doing other exercise alone – it’s my head space time – but training with friends? Now understand what it’s all about. Oh, and I’m back doing aerobics, but on-line these days.

Recipe of the week

More of an idea or collection of ingredients than a recipe, this was a very yummy lunch during the week.

First up I hard-boiled some eggs, peeled them, and chopped them up. Then I brushed some asparagus spears with olive oil and grilled them on the char-grill pan for a few minutes.

I introduced the eggs to the asparagus and grated over some parmesan. Job done.

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

7 thoughts

  1. Jo, I’ve never been one to travel in a ‘posse’ either, but I am a firm believer in accountability in any form. Having people who believe in you and support your goals is priceless. P.S. as one water person to another, try water aerobics (with resistance) on days when your body is particularly stressed. The roasted asparagus looks delicious.

  2. This post really resonates with me, Jo. I’m like you in a lot of ways. Aerobics? Always loved it – it’s practically dancing (or at least that’s what I tell myself 😁). Agreed on teams and other group activities. However, like you I have surprised myself by looking forward to regular video check-ins with a group of friends. The “no judgement” thing: priceless. Loved the lunch you made!


  3. I tend to be a solo workout person too; though I really enjoyed a few months of membership at Curves (a gym themed at women here in the US where they had a circuit rotation of easy machines). I keep debating about finding one again and trying to commit to that a few times a week but think I need to wait at least one month to see how the school/routines are going with the boys.

  4. Hi Jo, love your commitment and yes we can all do with a little help from our friends sometimes. I’m fortunate to have such quality friendships and appreciate everyone in my inner circle. So glad that you are enjoying your new health plan. Lunch looks delicious and healthy plus asparagus is one of my favourite veggies. Here’s to another great month of living well and being fit and healthy xx

  5. Hi Jo – I used to get picked last (or towards the end) for a lot of sports too – and I was a USELESS runner. People assumed I could run because I had long legs – but….no…. Glad you’re finding your exercise sweet spot and enjoying the support of good friends in the process, it’ll certainly help with the excess baggage, but even better – it will make you stronger and that’s always a bonus isn’t it? You’ll be auditioning for Victoria’s Secret before you know it (oh wait…..they’re not doing that anymore…..I wonder why?) x

  6. Fabulous to read this Jo, you are being proactive because you want it! It sounds as if you’re supported by good friends which is the way it should be.

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