Back to School PiYo Challenge

I’ve talked about accountability on this blog time and time again. It is SO important to creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I know when I’m lacking accountability, I falter. But when I’m being encouraged and motivated by others, I keep going. I stay focused.

In fact, my favorite thing to do is motivate and inspire others. That’s kinda been the theme of this blog all along – to take those of us who feel like “wannabe athletes” and help us find a healthier, more athletic version of ourselves. I find I am healthiest and most motivated when I am motivating others to be healthy.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, (or read my recent post) you know I’ve been loving PiYo. In fact, I went again last night – the room was packed!

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Our local gym offers a live class two days a week and I’m now planning my schedule around it. It’s that good. But…my schedule at work is about to get a lot busier. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it all the time.

So I decided to order the DVDs to do it at home. Confession: I’ve never been good at committing to doing dvds at home. It’s that lack of accountability thing. “No one will notice if I just turn it off halfway through…right?” Please tell me I’m not the only one. This is why I’ve never tried p90x or Insanity or all the other things that I’ve seen people do.

I think PiYo is different. Why? First of all, I can do it without wearing shoes. Don’t ask me why, but I absolutely hate working out in my living room with tennis shoes on. Maybe it’s the carpet factor? I don’t know. I don’t like it. Second, the workouts are only 25-45 minutes long. I can do that.

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But I know accountability is still the key. It probably is for you too.

If you’ve been feeling stuck in a rut, if you need some accountability, if you just need a fresh start, I want you to consider joining my “Back to School PiYo Challenge.” It will be a refreshing 30 days of accountability, motivation and CHANGE. Summer can be a hard time for consistency in our workouts. Too many bbq’s and ice cream cones don’t help. I always loved the start of a new school year – fresh notebooks, new pencils, everything shiny and bright. Why not do that for yourself? Maybe you’re a teacher about to go back to the classroom – this is a great way to start the school year off right and get yourself in a healthy routine. Maybe your kids are going back to school after a summer at home – you know how important it is to get into a healthy routine and stick with it. Or maybe no one in your life is going “back to school” – that’s okay. Give yourself a fresh start.

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If you’re interested, shoot me an email at calliecowan {at} gmail {dot} com or leave a comment below and I get get you more details. Or you can sign up directly HERE. I have officially joined Beach Body as a coach (working with fellow blogger Madeline!) and I’m excited about using this tool to keep motivating people. Oh and if you’re a blogger who is interested in this whole Beach Body thing, let me know – Madeline and I are excited about bringing the whole “blogger” angle to this coaching thing. I’ll write in another post about why I decided to become a Coach (and no, it’s not to make millions or retire from the job I LOVE). It’s to motive others and at the same time give myself the motivation to live the healthy life I want to live.

PS: If you sign up TODAY (before midnight on July 31) you can get a pretty big discount on the Challenge Pack. You know me – I’m all about saving money! 

The accountability group will officially start on August 11 and I’m excited to see the changes ahead. The piece of this that excites me the most? Doing it TOGETHER. I don’t have this all figured out. I’m not some super fitness model. I’m a busy, working mom who just wants to lead a healthier life and motivate others to do the same. I hope you’ll think about joining us!

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Don’t Let the Obstacles Win

I’ve been thinking a lot today about obstacles – those things that hold us back from living the life we want to live. We all have them. We all succumb to them. But often that excuse or obstacle only has as much power as we are willing to give it.

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Far too often, our biggest obstacle to living a healthy life is – ourselves. The very thing we want to improve is the thing that holds us back! We can be our own worst enemy.

Is your obstacle “time” – or lack thereof? I hear you. When life gets busy, when our schedule gets busy, the first thing to go is the time we take to care for ourselves. If you’re a mom like me, guilt starts building up. I can’t go to the gym – I need to spend time with my kids. I should do this, instead of that. No matter how busy you are, I would challenge you to really look at your schedule this week and chart how you’re spending your time – just like how you might track what you eat. Where are you spending your time? Is there time that you’re currently wasting in front of the TV or scrolling through Instagram that could be used toward bettering yourself? Or is there a way to capitalize on your time – spending time with the kids by going for a walk with them, or running around the park with them?

Is your obstacle “money” – or lack thereof? I’m right there with you. When money is tight, it’s hard to “splurge” on things like a gym membership or healthy foods. But again – I challenge you to track your spending. Find out where there is something that can be cut for something that can be gained. What if we focused on investing in our health the way we focus on investing in other things in our lives? Does it feel selfish to spend money on our health? Sometimes. It’s a tough investment because we can’t point to it like we can the new dress in our closet or the car in our driveway. Investing in our health feels much less tangible – but at the same time, it is so incredibly important.

Is your obstacle yourself? Is it emotional eating? Mindless eating? Been there. Let me introduce you to the big bag of tortilla chips that often find themselves sitting in my lap at 10pm as my husband and I binge watch Scandal on Netflix. It’s a battle. It’s a struggle.

But you’re worth it.

You’re worth overcoming those obstacles. We only get one shot at this life – what do you want yours to look like? One of defeat, giving in to the obstacles? Or one that overcomes them?

Here’s the great (and yet somehow scary) thing about that – only YOU get to decide.

You have to wake up every day and decide if the obstacles will win, or if you will. 

Who will win today?

What are the biggest obstacles you face on your journey to a healthier lifestyle?

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My First PiYo Experience

It seems like a PiYo craze has been sweeping the blogging world. Some of my favorite bloggers (like Katy and Katrina) are teaching PiYo, and since I don’t live close enough to check out their classes, I wanted to try one here.

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Honestly? I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.  I figured it was a mix of Pilates and yoga…but I’ve also heard that’s a little misleading. Other posts I’ve read made it sound more like dance – which freaked me out. I’m not a dancer. At ALL.

So I showed up to the YMCA after work, not really sure what to expect. That was pretty obvious since I wore shoes – and everyone else walked in in their flip flops. Oops.

The room filled up – pretty full actually. The ladies beside me were there for the first time. That immediately made me feel better. I hate going to a class where it seems like everyone knows the drill…except me. Newbies unite!

For the next hour we did more squats and lunges than I knew were possible. We did some yoga poses – warrior, sun salutations, etc  - and many of the strength moves were familiar. But they were done in a whole different way. It flowed with the music. It flowed from one to the next. The hour flew by.

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I didn’t bring water. That was a mistake. So was not bringing a towel. I sweat more than I did at one of my recent kickboxing classes.

And yet, I never got out of breath. I never felt like I was going to pass out. And things moved so quickly that I never got that awful shaking feeling that comes when you have to hold a squat for too long.

My butt started hurting before I got to my car. My quads started aching when I got home. Walking is going to be interesting tomorrow. I will definitely not be wearing high heels.

I think I’m hooked.

I loved that it is high intensity without being high impact. You might remember that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – a connective tissue disorder. I have to be really careful to take care of my joints and build strength around them. Things like running and kickboxing probably aren’t the best for someone with this disorder. Oops.

But PiYo? PiYo is a great option for someone like me. High intensity, low impact. It builds strength around the joints, and it doesn’t put them in danger. Our gym offers the class two days a week and I’m already looking forward to Friday. (And no, I’m not getting compensated in any way for writing this post – I just enjoyed it and hope you will too!)

Have you tried PiYo? 

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Getting (Back) Into the Running Groove

I ran yesterday. I ran today.

I can’t remember the last time that happened.

My husband got up with our little one in the middle of the night on Saturday night, so I offered to take them out for a jog so he could sleep in a little bit on Sunday morning. I loaded up my little buddies in the Double BOB stroller and headed out.

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I walked more than I ran, but I covered three miles. About halfway through, I came across these chairs on the side of the road, waiting for trash pick up. I wanted them. I neeeeeeded them. But I knew I shouldn’t wake my husband up to ask him to come get them. So I continued on. Everytime I wanted to walk, I’d say to myself, “Must keep going! Must get the chairs before someone else does!” Great motivation! I drove back and picked them up. I’m thinking about recovering them in a bright, fun fabric – just need to find out what that will look like! Suggestions?

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Tonight we headed down to our weekly Daquiri Deck 5k. We decided to switch things up tonight, so my husband headed out with the stroller. Even pushing two toddlers (weighing about 30 lbs each), that man is FAST!

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I covered the whole distance this time (from Daquiri Deck to the South Jetty and back) – total distance was 3.44 miles. And it was HOT. Brutally hot.

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Yes, I averaged 11:16 minute miles – I”m pretty proud of that!

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The view wasn’t too shabby either. I love living in paradise.

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The only downside? I was so excited to receive a new pair of running shoes in the mail today as a gift from Asics (I’ll be reviewing them soon on the blog) that I made the rookie mistake of wearing brand new shoes to a race. Oops. I have more than a few blisters to show for my run. That being said – I think I’m really going to love these shoes. They just need a little more breaking in.

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The Mini Athlete was pretty upset that he didn’t get to race tonight, so when we got home, he and Daddy ran races around the house. What a dad.

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Little Miss? She just wanted to pick flowers….

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My little cutie.

I don’t have any plans to run again this week (hoping to fit in at least one kickboxing class in the midst of a busy schedule) but I’m hoping I might squeeze one in. I’m thinking it might be time to sign up for a race…I may have finally gotten my groove back!

When is your next race? How do you get yourself back into the running groove after a long hiatus? Have you ever found anything on the side of the road while running – or driving for that matter?

 

 

 

 

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Healthy Living Inertia

When I think about my healthy living journey, the word that keeps coming to mind is “inertia.” I never too physics, but this concept has stuck with me.

Inertia is defined as “the tendency of a body to preserve its state of rest or uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force.”

Or, put differently, a body at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. Similarly, a body in motion will continue in motion until acted upon by an outside force.

I feel like this concept of inertia is really analogous to many of our journeys with health. Many of us are in that perpetual state of rest. Our lives are defined by sluggishness, or a lack of activity. We may wish, we may want, to move forward but we are at rest. We are stuck. And we stay there.

And then something happens. That external force.

Maybe it’s a bad healthy diagnosis. Maybe it’s outgrowing a favorite pair of jeans. Maybe it’s…fill in the blank. What was YOUR external force?

Something gets you out the door. Or maybe its back out the door.

Motion begins.

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And once that motion begins, true motion, it keeps in motion. Have you ever noticed that? Healthy living tends to lead to healthy living. The more I workout – the more I want to workout. The more I eat healthy, the more I want to eat healthy. The more I surround myself with like-minded people – the more we motivate eachother to be healthy.

I love that type of inertia.

I feel like I’m there right now. Over the past few weeks, I’ve developed a sort of plan when it comes to my workouts. Mondays – Daquiri Deck 5k (a weekly fun run downtown), Tuesdays & Thursdays – Kickboxing at the YMCA, Fridays – Body Pump at the YMCA, Saturday – Zumba at the YMCA. Yes, I’ve been averaging 3-4 group classes a week at the Y. I’m a group class junkie. And I love it.

I had been having aches in my hips. Since I started working out again? It’s gone. I feel happier after I workout. I definitely feel healthier. I look forward to my workout. We work them into our family schedule. The kids love going to the (free) childcare at the Y. The Mini Athlete always insists on doing his own “workout” before he goes into the kids play area though. (Seriously, he throws a temper tantrum and has a meltdown if he can’t do his “stretches” first.)

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Life is good.

What was the external force that got YOU moving toward (or back into) a healthy lifestyle?

 

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Top 5 Worst Group Fitness Class Instructors

I honestly believe that the instructor can make or break a group fitness class. Some are amazing and leave you wanting to take every class they lead. Others? Well, let’s just say they leave something to be desired. I’ve been to a LOT of group fitness classes over the years, and here are some of my Top 5 Worst Fitness Class Instructors.

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1) The Bored Instructor: Thankfully, I’ve only experienced this once – but it was TERRIBLE.  It seemed like that class was the last place she wanted to be. She looked at the clock every 5 minutes. I’m pretty sure she didn’t smile the entire time, and only put minimum effort into each move. Not exactly motivating if you know what I mean.

2) The Self-Absorbed Instructor: Class? What class? She is the one who shows up 10 minutes late, strolling in like you haven’t just raced from work to get there in time. Or woke up before the sun comes up. Once the class starts, she has no feel for how the class is doing. She doesn’t notice the 96 year old woman in the corner gasping for air, or the person who has NO idea how to properly do a lunge. She is in her own world, and you aren’t invited.

3) The Jillian Michaels / Full Metal Jacket Instructor: Oh man. This is the one where you realize about 5 minutes into the class that you are in WAY over your head. This instructor takes her role VERY seriously and has no problem getting up in your face when you take a breather after 55 burpees. Try not to puke on her shoes. You’ll end up running laps. Isn’t this supposed to be fun?

4) The Attention Whore Instructor: This class is all about HER. This instructor can’t stop looking at herself in the mirror and is prone to letting out a “woot woot!” and shaking her booty on far too frequent occasions. She is also known to wear revealing/inappropriate workout clothes from time to time. No, we do not want to see your hot pink thong peeking through your light purple spandex pants, thank you very much.

5) The Unprepared/Clueless Instructor: This often happens when you show up to your favorite class and realize your instructor is on vacation. Hello substitute who has never been to said favorite class. She tries to replicate what she knows you’re expecting, but can’t seem to get the routines or the moves right. It’s understandable though…I mean, it’s not easy to lead a kickboxing class while holding index cards explaining the moves in your hand.

I know, I know. I’m not a Group Fitness Class Instructor so please don’t take this post too seriously. I’m sure it’s much tougher than I give people credit for, and everyone has really personal preferences about what types of instructors they like. My favorites? The ones who are encouraging while still pushing you harder than you thought you could go. The ones who come prepared and respect how hard it might be for you to get away from your responsibilities to get to their class. The ones who motivate you, and remind you of why you are there.

What is your favorite or least favorite type of instructor? Have any funny stories to share?

 

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Meeting Famous People on a Monday Night

I live in a small town where people often complain that there is nothing to do. Tonight is proof that they are WRONG. Or tonight they were at least. :)

I mentioned yesterday that our local Daquiri Deck is doing a 5k every Monday night at 6:15pm. If you complete the 5k, you get a certificate for a free draft, daquiri or smoothie. We went as a family tonight and had to wait a little while as a Florida thunderstorm passed through. But the cool breezes after the storm were worth it! My husband set off at a quick pace while I hung back with the Mini Athlete who wanted to run.

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And oh can that boy run. He covered about a mile tonight – smiling the whole way. He definitely has his Daddy’s natural athlete abilities!

We headed back to the finish line in time to cheer the runners to the finish line and watch Daddy come in first place – again!

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I can’t help but wonder how fast he would be if actually trained. He won pretty easily tonight, but we’ll see if the competition increases as the event grows each week. A great group of people came out tonight (despite the storm) – including this amazing lady, Janet Oberholtzer.

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When you show up to a running group, you don’t expect someone to be there whose leg looks like this. And inevitably, your curiosity is piqued. I love that Janet made it easy to ask about her story by putting her website on her outfit.

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She shared with me that she was in a horrific accident a few years ago – a six vehicle accident where the other five vehicles were semi trucks. She came very close to losing her leg (and, quite frankly, her life) but made it through her recovery. She shared that she originally felt self-conscious about her new appearance, but came to the realization that we only have one life – it’s time to live it. And so she started running again – because she can.

She has run several half marathons since her accident, and ran the New York City marathon this past fall to raise money for IM ABLE. She has also written a book and is an accomplished speaker.

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Check out her story on her website – I’m so excited to get to know this incredible woman more at our upcoming Daquiri Deck 5ks!

After the race, we headed on down the street and met this legend at a local restaurant called “Made in Italy” – AMAZING!

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As you know, my husband and I are huge sports fans and as a graduate of the University of North Carolina, there is something pretty special about college basketball season. I love that my kiddos got to meet Dick Vitale – I’m pretty sure the Mini Athlete recognized his voice from the many college bball games we watch. He was so sweet and even gave Patrick an autographed copy of his book.

Now THAT’s what I call a good Monday night!

Have you ever randomly met someone famous? When? Where?

 

 

 

 

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Lately.

I went to 4 group fitness classes last week. I’m pretty sure that’s a record since Little Miss Athlete was born.

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I also weighed in this week at the highest weight since I lost the baby weight. I’m about 7-8 pounds heavier than I was a year ago. Grr.

I bought a tub of Publix Chocolate Fudge Chunk frozen yogurt last Thursday. It’s Sunday and it’s almost gone. And yes, I’m the only one in this house that eats it. The last two points may be somewhat related…

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It’s hot here in Florida. Really hot. But our local Daquiri Deck has a 5k every Monday night at 6:15pm. I’m thinking about trying to walk/run it with the double stroller tomorrow. We went last week and watched my husband win it. Of course.

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The only thing worse than working out when it is super HOT outside? Working out in your glasses. I seriously don’t know how people do it. But due to some contact overuse (so guilty), I have been told to lay off the contacts for a week. Ugh.

piratesOh and this photo is from our public library. The Mini Athlete absolutely LOVES it and never has trouble talking his mama into going. He was telling the librarian how much he loves pirates and she gave us these eye patches. How sweet is that?

Tell me a little bit about your “lately”. Any fitness triumphs to share?

 

 

 

 

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What Does a “Healthy Body Image” Mean to You?

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I recently started leading a young women’s Bible study in my town. It’s open to women ages 18-25 and we meet at our local Starbucks on a weekday evening. It’s not particular to one church – in fact, I think we have about 7 churches represented between the 12 of us. And I think that is SO cool.

We are going through a book called “Stress Point: Thriving Through Your 20′s in a Decade of Drama“.

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I’ve never gone through this study so I’m reading through it right along with the girls. I have to say that the book is lacking something in depth, but I do really like the topics it covers. Each week targets a different “Stress Point” someone in their 20′s might be facing: Career, Self-Image, Body Image, Relationships (romantic and family), Money, Making a Difference, Spiritual Maturity, etc. It’s nice that each chapter stands alone so that it’s not a big deal if someone misses a week or two due to traveling over the summer. (We currently have one girl in Zambia and one in France! Oh to be in my 20′s again…)

Tomorrow night we will be discussing Body Image and I really enjoyed this chapter. Maybe it’s because it struck some very familiar chords with me – and raised some interesting points.

One thing she said that resonated with me is, “It occurred to me that I neglected to see that if the promises of Scripture apply to areas of my life like relationships and money, I must not exclude the truths of the Bible with regard to how I view and treat my body.”

Bottom line? We are His creation. We are not an accident. Our bodies were designed to be unique, unlike anyone else’s. In the Bible, our body is referred to as a temple. When we mistreat it, whether it be through unhealthy habits or by beating ourselves up in an attempt to achieve a fleeting “perfection”, we are neglecting one of the amazing gifts God has given to us. Taking it a little deeper? We are making His creation all about the CreatED, rather than all about the CreatOR.

I also loved this quote, “We wouldn’t look up at a rainbow and say, ‘Hmm…that red hue is not quite deep enough.’ So why would we look at ourselves (His creation) and criticize our beautiful red hair whose every strand was painted by our Creator with care and craftmanship?”

Guilty.

There have been far too many days I’ve obsessed over my reflection in the mirror. I’ve wasted precious time and emotion melting down over the clothes that don’t fit the way I want them to. Rather than focusing on the positives, I’ve always focused on the negatives. One of the most difficult parts of this chapter was when we were asked to list three things we love about our body. That was a lot harder than I thought. It is so much easier to list three things we don’t like about our body. It occurred to me that maybe if I force myself to focus on three positive things about my body rather than falling into the negative self-talk that always seems to creep in, it might be easier to maintain the healthy body image both I and my Creator want me to have.

Before I lead this group of amazing young women tomorrow night, I wanted to turn to you, my faithful blog readers, to get your input. I’m hoping to provide them with several views of what a “healthy body image” means and how they can work toward achieving that. I look forward to reading your responses!

What does “Healthy Body Image” mean to you and what advice would you give to young women seeking to find it? 

 

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Learning to Love Group Classes Again

As you may remember, I joined the YMCA for the summer. I started strong, using the Jamie Eason “LiveFit” program. But slowly and surely…my motivation started to wane. Life has been getting in the way. I would put off going to the gym and never seemed to get there. So I did what I always have done when that happens…tried a group class.

My most consistent gym-going days were back when I went to Elite Training Center in St Petersburg. This was before kids, toward the end of law school. My husband and I would go together, and we LOVED it. We took their “Cardio Kickboxing” classes and I’ve probably never been in such good shape. Unfortunately, it wasn’t cheap. Not even close.

Then we joined another gym and my friend Jenn and I attended a Body Pump type class. I can’t remember exactly what it was called, but it had the same basic components. And then…I got pregnant. And stopped going.

Since having my second baby, I really haven’t had a consistent workout plan. But I’m excited to be focusing on that again. And I think these group classes are really going to help. The only problem? During the week, the classes are either 5:30-6:30pm or 6:00-7:00pm. The problem with that? I don’t get out of work to pick up the kids until 5pm, and then they go to bed by 7:30 or 8:00pm. Going to a group class in the evening means I miss time with them.  And then…the Mommy Guilt steps in.

But I do have Fridays off work and my kids love going to the childcare at the gym. So this Friday, I tried the “Body Pump” class for the first time. I loved it!

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I checked out the Saturday schedule and went for Zumba – I’ve been twice now and while I’m not totally on the bandwagon yet, I do love getting my heart rate up and moving my body to some fun music.

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So I’m thinking if I can do two classes on the weekend, and one or two during the week, I’ll be on a good track. The one thing I’m missing?

Gym buddies.

The times I’ve been the most successful in sticking to a workout routine is when I’ve had people to hold me accountable and keep me motivated.

I’m hoping by going consistently to some group classes, I’ll find some of those folks. And hopefully I can be that for someone else.

How have you found workout buddies to keep you focused?

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