At this exact moment, my closest friends are on their way to run, bike and swim 140.6 miles in Ironman Florida. They have been preparing for this over the last several months and by Sunday evening, all their hard work will have paid off. For some, it will be their 10th or 11th Ironman triathlon; for others, their first. They have spent countless hours riding bikes together through the palm plantains in South Florida, swimming in warm waters of Key Biscayne, and running- everywhere. They have bonded over many breakfasts and trips to the cycle shop. I have watched them, daily, from afar via FaceTime and Whatsapp. I am so proud and excited for them. I cannot wait to follow them live this weekend- watching them suffer, all day long, doing the things they love most. Being there could have only been a dream for me this year.
But remembering all the hours we spent training together for triathlons only makes me smile. There's few things better than enjoying your hobbies with those you love. Everyday. When trying to reignite your fitness regime or just initiating a lifestyle change, having a support crew is not only motivating but has been shown to get you results faster. Better outcomes and sustaining those results have been shown in those with a training partner or club.
Here are few suggestions as to how to take the first steps:
1) Have a friend on speed dial - if you find an hour or so free to sneak in a workout- ring up your buddy and invite them to join you. It helps them as much as it helps you.
2) Make a weekly plan. Pick a morning or night to meet up with a run club or a few yoga fans on a regular schedule. Stick to it. My Ewan and I run with a club on Thursday nights here in the winter months here in Edinburgh. It gives us motivation to stay fit and spend time together.
3) Meet-up groups can be helpful too. They are noncommittal so not ideal for accountability but you can connect with other like minded folks who can keep you engaged.
4) On-line High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions are excellent, if you're more of a self motivator type. If the weather is poor, no excuses! These are done in the comfort of your own home. Invite your roommate, partner, husband, wife, or neighbour to join you. Just because they are short workouts doesn't mean they are not effective. Thats the concept of HIIT. You'll be drenched in sweat in the first 5 minutes and within 30 minutes you'll be so happy that you're finished. Try 2-3 of these per week and results will be obvious.
5) Make friends with your exercise class instructor. If you don't have a fitness community yet, joining a gym or studio will allow you to meet other fitness lovers as well as professionals. Good instructors will remember your name and your strengths and weaknesses. They will guide you to fitness in a subtle way thats rewarding and fulfilling. Eventually you may feel a sense of camaraderie. You won't want to let them down. And you won't want to let yourself down.
Improving your health is a long-term goal. It takes a little work and dedication. Just like good friendships.