Agreement and Accountability: Long-Distance Gym Buddies Make Exercise Fun!

Feb 21, 2023 | Main Blog | 2 comments

Last Tuesday something was on the news that I knew my friend Becky would find interesting, so I sent her an Instant Message (IM), and I ended with, “And how are you?”

Her response was a bit of a shock. “I’m depressed. I can’t play softball since it’s winter and feel like I’ve gained weight so I’m a lump of coal. I could go to physical therapy for my arthritis, but I just can’t get motivated.”

Wow. That surprised me. Becky is a total athlete and always comes across on the top in life when we talk. So, what do I say? She now lives a few hundred miles south of me in the Carolinas, which means I really don’t get to see her. Trying to do something together just isn’t possible. I decided merely sharing my story might get a conversation going.

I spoke. “Becky, I can go to physical therapy for my back, but I really have never enjoyed it. I have a membership at Planet Fitness, and I try to go three times a week. They have the most wonderful water massage therapy loungers and even if the gym itself wasn’t wonderful, this equipment alone is worth the membership.”

“I have a membership at Planet Fitness, and I never go. I just have the $10 a month plan so I can’t use the massager,” Becky replied.

“You’re not alone,” I explained. “Apparently gyms make most of their money from people who buy a  membership and never show up.”

I felt good about telling her how much I love the gym which is directly related to how much I really dislike physical therapy, but I think I need to tread softly, especially since she said she was depressed.

I continued. “I just never enjoyed the physical therapy, but Planet Fitness is great. I made an appointment for a fitness plan at the gym, but I explained to the fellow that what I really need is to learn what machines will help my core and lower back. He walked around and showed me four machines and I said I did the ski machine first but for less than 10 minutes and he agreed that was a good idea.
Actually, I found the gym trainers at Planet Fitness much more engaged than the folks at the physical therapist because they have something new each time and therefore it keeps their interest. They’re great, polite, helpful, and always there for a consultation. And Planet Fitness is open 24 hours a day so I can go when I want. I can even look on my phone app and determine how many people are at the gym right now; if it’s overcrowded I can go later – I usually go at 6:30 a.m. and it’s not crowded. And it’s a very good start to my day.”

“Yes,” Becky said, “I should do that.”

Suddenly, I had an idea. I sent her a photo of the lounge massager and suggested we become “gym buddies” by going to the gym and telling each other about our days. She was delighted.

When I told my husband he said, “You’ll go to the gym together?” I laughed. “Oh, no, she’s several hundred miles away. We just keep each other posted on what we’ve done along with what was good and what was not a success.”

And that’s what we do. I try to go Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday because I try to ride my horse on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Monday is, well, it’s Monday – I’ve decided Monday is the day I’m off the hook.

Thus, we started. Wednesday morning. I reported the time I spent on the ski machine, my steps thus far that day, and how many pounds I used on the different machines. I told her I felt great after going and my day was certainly much improved. She upped her membership and did an impressive workout on the stairs (I HATE the stairs) and absolutely loved the lounge massager. We reported our workouts each day, and at first I disappointed her when I said I was skipping Friday because I hoped to go horseback riding. But I said doing the gym and horseback riding in the same day was too much for me. Then she understood.

We have our plan for the upcoming week, and she writes texts addressing me as “gym buddy.” What a blessing. I did not want to go to the gym last Wednesday, but I couldn’t see myself telling Becky that I am a wimp and I didn’t go. So, I did go and it really helped.

This is fun! One doesn’t need someone to physically come along in person; gym buddies can be long distance, and it’s enjoyable. Becky is thankful we’re “in this together,” and I so enjoy having someone on my side as I do my workouts.

The moral of the story: If you can’t find a buddy to help you do something, consider a long-distance friend and report to each other all the fun you’re having. I’m looking forward to next week so I can report my steps and the pounds I lift and push as I work out. Whatever can help us to get more exercise is worth a try. And gym buddies keep us going back and having someone to talk to everyday.

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  1. Judy Skeels

    This is a brilliant idea! Thank you for writing about being a gym buddy. Not only are you motivating your friend, but you are benefitting too.

  2. KS

    What a wonderfully inspiring article! I’m now wanting to go to the gym with a long-time friend who lives several states away.

    This author Grace is onto something big here with this idea! Off to text my friend…


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