Friends: The Secret to Workout Success

Women runners hug in front of graffiti that says "Hug Someone."
AWDAT (Awesome Women Doing Awesome Things) is a regular group of workout buddies in Austin, TX (shown here on a weekend run).

The three of us were paddling along in the lake, talking in the dark. Lindsay had decided that what our pre-dawn aqua jogging session really required was a  pull-behind floating ice chest, something in which to haul the morning beverages that Julie had suggested. Surely Amazon Prime could deliver one to the boat dock before we returned from our out-and-back route — after all, Julie’s phone was handy, hanging in a water-proof bag around her neck. By now, we were laughing, envisioning our bobbing heads, coffees (or adult beverages) held aloft, chest in tow. Julie added that she could provide tunes on her phone, thus completing our festive flotilla.

“We party more before breakfast than most people do all day,” I said admiringly.

Women posing in a field of bluebonnets
This group of awesome women has been meeting for free workouts for over 10 years.

It’s true. My regular morning workouts are full of girlfriends, people who get me out of bed five days out of most weeks. I’m not quite sure I’d be watching the sunrise from a parking garage rooftop without the motivation of someone who’ll push me, like Cherie. Or wading into the lake in the dark without Julie.

For Julie and Lindsay, both of whom are dealing with injuries, this pool of workout buddies helps keep them positively focused on recovery. There’s always someone on the list serve who’s interested in a walk, an aqua jog, or some other alternative exercise to keep our wounded workout warriors company.

Women pose with biceps flexed in matching shirts.
Friends will join in on all kinds of events. AWDAT teams get ready for the 2014 AFM Fittest.

Within this cluster of buddies, there is always a variety of goal events to help keep training inspired. My 6-hour hike last weekend passed that much more quickly for sharing it with others. It’s easier to push past a low spot when encouragement and commiseration are shared. Different folks come up with locations, distances, and times of workouts to fit training needs, logistical solutions I might not have arrived at on my own. Someone is always sharing a tip or showing a new piece of equipment. Others gently prompt me to replace ancient, worn-out, and ill-fitting workout wear.

I don’t always want a friend along. Many a day, I revel in a solitary run, keeping my own thoughts and enjoying the simple sounds of nature. There’s a wonderful anonymity to showing up for yoga as just another silent body on a mat. At boxing, I can concentrate on perfecting moves and dealing with frustrations as I punch the heavy bag. And I don’t always want a workout; every now and then, my body opts for the rest and relaxation of sleeping in.

When necessary, however, my workout friends are there.

As I take a look at those I’ve known over the years who’ve made great strides in physical fitness, I can’t help but notice this common denominator: a friend or two to count on for workouts. Someone to help provide motivation for improvements, set goals to accomplish, encourage continuity in effort, or (like Julie and Lindsay this morning) add a needed laugh or lend a supporting shoulder. People who keep them healthier — mentally and physically — by sharing sweat.

Those buddies are the awesome sauce to any workout.

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

0 thoughts on “Friends: The Secret to Workout Success

  1. Wonderful, Leah! Agree that the best of friends are either there for you when you want or need them, or make themselves scarce when all you need is a little time to yourself.

  2. Leah, I completely agree! There is no way I\’d wake up at 5:30am unless I know AWDATers are expecting me to join them in a pre dawn, algae filled lake for an aquajog or swim! Workout buddies are truly the secret to success (and happiness)!

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