by Katy L.
When I was young, I played on lots of sports teams. I was surrounded by girls who loved to sweat, eat, and spend way too much time together, so it came as no surprise that I grew up and became a Phys Ed teacher, trainer, and yoga instructor. As I matured (somewhat) and began replacing sports with fitness, I had a harder time finding those like-minded girls who loved to sweat. Apparently, not everyone's idea of having a good time involves getting the shit kicked out of them. I was confused. Didn't everyone think squatting to failure was fun? Who doesn't love comparing sweat stains and smelling each other's armpits? Wasn't running past the point of nausea everyone's favourite pastime?
It will come as no surprise that I don't have many gym friends. Some would argue I don't have many friends in general, but I digress. I remember how often I'd tell people that I wanted a workout buddy. I wanted someone to hang out with at the gym instead of the 20-year old receptionist at the front desk who felt obligated to laugh at my horrible jokes. The other personal trainers were crazy jacked and only talked about protein powder, and the other yogis would just laugh at (not with) me when I tried to speak vegan. Really, I'd tell anyone in hopes that someone would take me up on it. The guy on the subway, a server, my taxi driver, my mom...
I got lucky when I finally met my gym BFF at age 30. Number one, she didn't run in the other direction when I called her my gym BFF after knowing her for one day. We started out as running buddies, and after only a few runs in, I discovered I was pregnant. I was terrified of losing my only gym friend, but didn't want to tell anybody I was expecting just yet. Our next run together, I swear I nearly died. I was beet red, drenched with sweat and panting while trying to keep up to our regular pace. My gym BFF was supportive and caring about my disgusting exterior and inability to run more than 100 meters. While on a walk break, she confided in me that she was pregnant! I jumped for joy (and believe I wet myself) and exclaimed that I was, too! We were at the exact same point in our lives, and both enjoyed active pregnancies by continuing to run, strength train (she would come to my fitness classes... Unforced!) and by taking prenatal yoga.
I won't lie, having a workout BFF made me up my game. I'm competitive in nature, so it helped having someone push me harder than I would push myself. She wanted me to do three sets of stairs, I'd do five, then pretend to take a drink while gasping for air. We liked coming up with new workouts for each other, whether we were tandem on the treadmill or supersetting. I'd try to impress her by sprinting a little faster or lifting a little heavier, all while trying to keep my sweat to a glow and not let out a fart.
My workout partner kept me accountable. Knowing she was going to be meeting me at the gym or on the trail forced me to keep driving even when my senses smelled McDonald's fries, and helped me get my ass off the couch even if the Bachelor was on. My workouts became so much more enjoyable! I had a partner in crime to carry out some of my favorite hobbies: bitch about people, rate the guys at the gym, and people watch.
I don't know about you, but I'd think about my workout BFF when I picked my gym outfit. "Awe, man- Emily is soooo going to notice how small my gunt looks in these compression tights!" "Haha, Emily doesn't need an XS sports bra to hold up her non-existent boobs!" "I wonder what Emily will think of my lashes in this waterproof mascara?" "I'll just use a little bronzer to make it look like I woke up like this."
Emily has since moved away (reading this, it makes perfect sense) and I am left without a gym BFF. We talk a ton, still share workouts and have signed up for a half marathon together. I'm not sure she is replaceable, but I have hopes that I can find another gym BFF.
It just may take me another 30 years.