For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a lone wolf when it comes to fitness. Aside from playing team sports for 10+ years, all of my other exercise was always done solo. Long runs, track workouts, yoga and spinning classes, early morning weight lifting sessions, pilates…all done primarily by myself. Once in a blue moon a friend and I would meet up for a spin class, or I’d convince a someone to come for a run with me or do an impromptu bootcamp style workout, but I’ve never in my life had a dedicated workout buddy.
For a while, I chalked it up to simply being an introverted only child who values alone time. Also, I felt I was able to really get in the zone by throwing some headphones on, tuning into some music or a podcast, and doing work without the distraction of having to socialize. I never thought I needed to workout with other people because I consider myself, for the most part, to be very intrinsically motivated. The idea of having a workout buddy never appealed to me — lots of people have them to keep themselves accountable so as not to bail on workouts, but I was committed to my training schedule and rarely skipped workouts, so why would I need a workout buddy?
Enter: our cross-country move. First of all, my routine was thrown into a tailspin. With no more 9-5 job, gone were the days of my 5:30AM Crunch Gym daily workouts. I reluctantly joined 24 Hour Fitness when we moved because I’d only ever belonged to big box gyms and didn’t know where else to go. But slogging through my workouts in that stanky, crowded gym started to mess with my motivation. I started skipping more and more workouts, opting to run or do bodyweight exercises outside…but I missed lifting. I had biked past a really awesome looking CrossFit gym in Venice a bunch of times, but I had already stubbornly decided that CrossFit wasn’t for me. Desperate times call for desperate measures, though, so I called up DEUCE Gym in August and inquired about an intro session…and threw myself into a whole new world of fitness.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was wary of CrossFit. So wary, in fact, that even though I knew that I would love the workouts, I actively avoided it for years. Despite having a competitive athletic background, I was beyond intimidated to begin CrossFit. In my mind, everyone who did it had been doing it for years, exercised without a shirt to show off their 6 pack, and frequently got injured. I’m ashamed to say that I bought into the bad PR surrounding the sport — a sport that I now know to be not only a killer workout that feeds my competitive nature, but one with a supportive community, an important ethos, and one that helps to breed thousands of functionally fit individuals in a world that desperately tries to keep people unhealthy.
Aside from completely upending my training regimen, gone are my lone wolf training days. At first, it felt a little uncomfortable to chat with people at the gym after so many years of actively avoiding doing exactly that at gyms. However, slowly but surely I started to come out of my anti-social fitness turtle shell. I started recognizing people and making small talk. Then I started learning some names and diving into longer chats. All the while, still trying to break free from the shackles of years of keeping to myself in the gym.
I realized just last week how far I’ve come since joining DEUCE. I was there shadowing a class (part of the requirement of a coach’s prep program that I’m in at the gym), and saw a girl that I’m friendly with deadlifting out in the yard. After deliberating for a few seconds over whether I’d be intruding or not, I bopped over to her and asked if I could join her for some sets. We ended up deadlifting, squatting, and chatting for about 30 minutes and it was wonderfully foreign to me and at the same time totally awesome. It dawned on me then that despite some of my close friends enjoying the occasional spinning or yoga classes, I’ve never truly jived with them when it comes to fitness. I love them all dearly, but not being able to share one of my passions with any of my close friends is kind of a strange feeling. Opposites attract, I suppose.
In that moment, I realized that it took a cross-country move for me to find my tribe. I’m still a newbie to the gym and the fitness scene out here in general, but for the first time in my life I’m surrounding myself with people who have similar goals, interests, and passions. I stumbled upon a blog post recently that really struck a chord with me:
“…but I do value being part of a community. I have a strong desire to feel supported and to feel like I belong. Instead of creating an environment where I’m judged by how I look, create space where I can feel included and celebrated for my efforts. Cheer me on when I show up and nudge me to come back if I don’t. I want a space where I can fail and someone will be there to help me try again, and remind me that failure is a part of this process. I want to be surrounded by fitness professionals who demonstrate empathy and lead by their own example of caring and kindness. I want a tribe who makes me feel like I belong.”
I’ll always have a special spot for quiet, solo runs and my relaxing at-home yoga practice, but since joining DEUCE I finally understand the value in training buddies, group workouts, and a supportive community. That camaraderie you feel as you all grind through a particularly grueling workout is something special. It’s reminiscent for me of my days of backbreaking two-a-day practices for field hockey, basketball, and softball, and the bond I felt with my teammates. And as for my 24 Hour Fitness membership? I’m unfortunately locked into a year contract, but I’m counting down the days until June 1 so I can break it and never set foot in there again. I found my tribe, and I’m sticking with them.