As much as I advocate healthy relationships and accountability among women when I’m speaking and teaching, I have to admit I’ve steered away from fitness accountability. I’ve worked through several reasons (a.k.a., excuses). It was easier to set my own schedule. When my girls were young, I needed to sneak in workouts whenever I could. I often took them in the stroller for long walks when I knew they could best manage. To set a specific time and days seemed unfathomable. I knew the weather, kids and other factors would get in the way. Why schedule something at all when I was sure I’d have to reschedule?
Even as my girls grew and I had more flexibility, I didn’t welcome the idea of working out with others. I enjoyed the solitude of being by myself. It was one of the few times I could listen only to my own thoughts and take in everything around me without distractions. Also, I walk quickly, and few people I knew, whose schedule somewhat matched mine, could keep up. That meant I didn’t feel as if I had a “complete” workout when I was done. So, I’d potentially spend precious time away from my family, get no alone time, and not get a great workout. The choice to work out on my own seemed like a no-brainer.
There have been a few exceptions. I love walking with husband, especially in recent years. I walk at his pace and take a separate walk if I feel the need. We walk and talk, enjoying each other’s company. I love walking with my oldest daughter. We live a state apart, so we don’t walk together often. She can now easily walk as quickly as I can; in fact, each time I walk with her, I ready myself for being left in her dust. I also enjoy walks with a few of my best friends who walk relatively quickly. Sharing seems to flow freely as we walk, and these friends know long walks don’t daunt me. I’m in it – the walk and the friendship – for the long haul.
Not long ago, I ventured into one more shared fitness experience. My youngest daughter, who is very involved in dance, asked me to go to an intense, full body workout in preparation for her upcoming busy dance schedule. I agreed along with another dancer’s mom. It was challenging to say the least, and I left with a desire to return so I could meet the physically demanding challenge.
After a couple more classes, I found out one of the women in the class shared a very good mutual friend with me. I had heard many great things about her from our friend, and she had heard about me, so when we put the puzzle pieces together, we felt like we already knew each other. Someone else I knew but hadn’t seen for quite a while showed up for the following class, and I found out those two women not only knew each other but worked together and often attended a couple fitness classes together. It was fun to see new connections among my network of friends.
We were glad when we saw other in class, and it wasn’t long before we started checking with each other prior to class to encourage each other to be there or be aware when someone had a conflict. Working out together spurred accountability as well as fun, as we shared inside jokes, exhaustion, sore muscles and challenges. When we took a break over Christmas, I missed the routine of the classes, but I missed seeing my friends more. Who would have thought I, the woman who preferred to work out on her own, would suddenly be missing my work out buddies?
Friendships are essential. Healthy friendships are essential. Set aside your excuses. You might think you don’t have time for a women’s study group. You might prefer to control your own schedule. You might not want the hassle of potential personality conflicts. But it’s what God intended for you.
So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)