Think fast: It’s two minutes until your favorite group fitness class is supposed to start, the room is packed with people ready to get their sweat on and all of a sudden you get the message: the teacher – a rockstar so beloved that people routinely drive a half hour past other perfectly decent gyms to take her classes – has been struck down with an intestinal bug and isn’t coming. Your options are to duck out and run for one of the treadmills before they’re all taken, try out the Active Older Adult class or throw the sweat towel in early and head out for brunch. Or… you could jump in and help. Gym Buddy to the rescue! Which is how this happened on Saturday:
Yeah, so how was your weekend? Mine was awesome – I got to live out the dream I’ve never had of becoming an aerobics instructor when Turbo Jennie was slammed with food poisoning (hint: never eat at a restaurant with the word “Green” already built in the title…). There was some confusion as we all scrambled trying to figure out what to do after receiving the news but we all knew we still wanted our TurboKick. Someone found some old music and somehow I got my hands on the mic. (I know – I can’t believe they just gave it to me either! Had I ever taught aerobics before? Well, it can’t be that different from High School Chemistry, right?
Lucky for you Gym Buddy Allison got video of my good-deed-gone-awry. “Punch, punch and Jump! To! The! Front!” There’s a reason this is not my day job. No, the best part of this was not that I got to relive my community theater days – although I did have a blast, not gonna lie – it was how a whole room of Gym Buddies pulled together to make Gatorade from gators. (Wow, that’s a gruesome analogy – am sticking with the proverbial lemon next time.) Seeing as I had never done that particular round before (I think it came out before I was born) and couldn’t make any sense out of the notes (for the love of little green apples, what is a “scissor”?!), it ended up being an exercise in group improv. “Okay!” I’d shout in my best cheerleader-chirp, “Everyone four punches to the front!”
“And then WHEEL!” Lindsey would shout out and we’d all wheel.
And then I’d turn to Megan and ask her to repeat the whole sequence back to me because apparently attaching a mic pack to my head short-circuits my short-term memory.
We did the entire hour workout complete with legs and abs (during which I yelled at them to quit resting just like Jennie does!) and almost everyone stuck it out! I’m not sure how great of a workout it was for everyone else – I was drenched in sweat; it’s crazy hard to talk and Turbo! – but everyone just did the best with what we had and if nothing else we all burned a lot of calories just from the laughing. I tried to help Jennie, the whole class helped me and in the end everyone won. That’s the power of good Gym Buddies.
It’s no secret that the “secret” behind The Great Fitness Experiment are my Gym Buddies. These girls (and the occasional dude) keep me sane, make me laugh every day, fix errant bra straps, provide spare ponytail holders, tell me when I have camel toe (we tried to make up a hand sign for that one but everything we came up with was more obscene than what we were trying to prevent!), catch me when I get my feet caught in the TRX, compete against me in everything we do, listen to my long-winded stories and through it all never complain about all the crazy stuff I drag them into. (I am a risky friend – how often do your girlfriends talk you into getting your head locked between a strange man’s legs? Don’t answer that.) One of the questions I get most often is how did I find these girls and how can you find your own Gym Buddies?
1. Look for a Gym Buddy in the gym. (Or wherever it is you workout.) I know it sounds obvious but I can’t tell you how many e-mails/comments I’ve got from people saying how they keep trying to get their neighbor/best friend/cousin/coworker/spouse to exercise with them but it doesn’t work out. Either they’re not as committed to getting up at 5 a.m. or they are slower runners or passive-aggressive chewers or whatever. So look around your gym for people who are already doing the same things you are doing. Who are the girls you regularly see in your classes? Who are the men lifting weights the same time as you? Some gyms even have bulletin boards where you can post a note looking for a running group or weight lifting partner. Plus meeting someone at your current gym automatically fixes the transportation, meeting place, cost and other issues.
2. Be friendly. This part is hard for a lot of us. Believe it or not, I’m not a naturally outgoing person. I spent the first half of my life telling people I was painfully shy until one day I decided that I was sick of that label and sick of being “shy.” Striking up that first conversation with a stranger isn’t easy, even for those of us that make it look easy. But it does get better! The more times you smile at someone in the mirror or give them a sweaty high five after class, the more natural it gets. Not everyone is going to respond – some people just prefer to workout alone and that’s cool – so this would be a good time to break out those dealing-with-rejection skills.
3. Look for people like you. Whether or not you are in the gym, often you will meet people who share similar interests. Of course you won’t know they share your passion for Piloxing or your yen for zen unless you are doing #2. (Hahah – I wrote “doing number two!” I’m sorry, I live with 4 people under 8. I can’t help it.) I’ve found great Gym Buddies at church, the PTA, playgroups and even in line at Target. Don’t forget the Internet – check out forums for whatever sport you love and see if you can find a local group to join.
4. Don’t be afraid to seal the deal. When you meet someone you think might be a good workout partner, don’t be shy about setting a time and place. You’re not asking them to marry you, you’re just asking them to stare at your scantily clad butt as you sweat a puddle that smells like the curry you had for dinner the night before while you do Hot Yoga together. See? Easy.
Do you have a good Gym Buddy or three? What are your tips for finding a good Gym Buddy? Have you ever had to do something you’re totally unqualified for (birth a baby? land an airplane? roll a whale back into the sea?)??