Fitness with "family"

You know the Cheers theme song (“Where everybody knows your na-a-ame, da da da…”)? You go to a place and it’s like your second home (architects refer to this as a “third place”). I think it’s great and all that bars, coffee shops, and restaurants usually earn this type of distinction, but it is my contention that alcohol, caffeine, and food are primary motivators. By this I mean the activities are pleasurable in and of themselves (sex is another example). As primary motivators, we really don’t need much encouragement to imbibe, consume, or participate in them. But what about something that isn’t a primary motivator? What about an activity that is actually rather uncomfortable, difficult, and challenging? Wouldn’t it be helpful if you had people by your side to help get you through it? Of course I’m talking about exercise and what I experienced today was a “third place” called Fitness Partners.

If you read yesterday’s blog, you would know that I tried and failed previously to locate Fitness Partners. Today did much better and arrived just in the nick of time for a Sunday cycling class. The lady at the front desk escorted me to the cycling room and helped me locate an available bike. She also noticed that I didn’t have any H20, so she brought me a bottle of water without me even having to ask. As I adjusted my bike and began to settle in I noticed a comfortable banter circulating through the room. A couple of ladies to my right even struck up a conversation with me and seemed genuinely interested when I told them that I was doing research for an article. The instructor soon began class and I focused on climbing my “hill”. Throughout the class the instructor called on participants by name to encourage them to “speed up”, “hover over the saddle”, or “keep their head up”.

After the cycling portion of the class concluded, everyone moved to the main exercise floor for some supplementary weight training. Outside of cycling room’s black lights I could see that there were real friendships between the various participants. They joked about their age, recently released movies (“The Hangover” was a favorite), and generally gave the instructor a hard time, albeit in a playful way. We finished the routine and one of the gym members showed me around the facility. She told me that many of the people there have been attending classes for years and even followed the center as it moved from its previous locations. As I grabbed my stuff and headed for the door, another member invited me to go to breakfast with him and a few others from the class. My schedule for the rest of the day required that I decline the offer, but I was appreciative none the less.

As I drove home, I realized how great I felt. Sure the exercise was good, but I think that more so it was the result of the genuine warmth and openness of the people in the class. Contrary to the efforts of many a business person, no amount of money, mission statements, or manipulation could create that kind of environment. It’s, as Martha Stewart would say, “a good thing”.

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About Unknown

Tony is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, author of "Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman's Guide to Cooking with Fire", and Cofounder of Powerful PT, an innovative information resource for Fitness Professionals. He has appeared on numerous local and national television and radio broadcasts and regularly hosts healthy cooking workshops and informational lectures. He is also a full-time Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant who lives in Jacksonville Florida with his wife Jamie.
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  1. I'd be interested in finding out what research has been conducted on the relationship of emotional wellbeing on the effectiveness of physical training. Visualations studies have created a remarkably simulated workout experience for trained athletes.