Lately, I’ve been watching episodes of ‘The Sopranos’, and it occurred to me that while the nature of a group of Italian mobsters isn’t something to aspire to, the value they place on ‘family’ certainly is.
Their ‘family’ may not be blood-related, but they certainly make no qualms about someone who has wronged a member of their clan. And while their responses to those wrongs typically end in pain, bloodshed and all sorts of ugliness, their strong passion for the members of their family is what most of us long for – no matter what you call it. A family, clan, tribe, unit, coupling, gaggle, whatever. Finding one’s tribe can be work, it can be a challenge, but once you’ve found those people who share your values, it can be one of the most wonderfully rewarding parts of life. According to Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine, “loneliness is a greater risk to your health than smoking or lack of exercise, and finding your tribe is better than any vitamin, diet or exercise regimen.”
Finding my tribe, the unlikely group that found its way into my heart, came in quite the roundabout way.
In January 2011, my husband convinced me to sign up for a 10-week challenge at a local kickboxing facility. Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping sounded scary and definitely a place I did NOT belong. I was always considered thin in school despite never playing sports or exercising but by now I’d gained weight and my sedentary life was catching up to me. The idea of jumping into what I thought was an elite training program frankly freaked me out. But Joe convinced me I could do it, and if he believed in me, I could believe in me too.
I made it through those 10 weeks, meeting a lot of great people who became fast friends. The owners proved to be great people who only cared about improving the fitness and lives of their members. And never once did I feel out of my element or embarrassed about my current level of health. They met me where I was and helped me improve each day. As friendships continued to develop, I felt confident enough to become a coach, helping to provide support and guidance to the next group of ’10-weekers’ who joined Farrell’s. Coaching allowed me to help others as my coach had supported me to achieve results, grow stronger and be healthier.
Fast forward 18 months to my next big challenge, completing a Tough Mudder. Thirteen miles, 26 military-style obstacles. Mud, ice, fire, electricity, heights. With a team of 50 of friends from the gym.
And dozens more supporting us back home. It. Was. Fantastic. Empowering. (and yes, a little painful too! But great!)
What brought us together was the gym. Working out together and supporting each other toward our goals is our common link. Do I have friends outside of the gym? Absolutely, but I can honestly say that my gym friends are those that I hang out with most.
They have the same values toward living a healthy lifestyle and let’s face it, getting ready in the morning in the locker room is a great way to get to know each other.
This picture speaks a lot to me – it was taken during one of the worst times in my ‘pre-gym ownership’ career.
I never would have met this group of ladies had it not been for Farrell’s. We spent the weekend, just us ladies, hiking and enjoying each other’s company (and YES, we enjoyed a few adult beverages. We aren’t all work and no play!) That weekend was the first time when I started to really think about what it would look like if I entered the fitness industry and leave behind healthcare marketing. And one year later, I bought the gym, knowing that the members, my friends would have my back 100%. Their support has carried me through some fun times and some tough times through the past 18 months, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would find my tribe, my group, the collection of folks who make me be my best self every day in a fitness center, I would have laughed. And now, I can’t imagine belonging to a better group. Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping is my tribe and I’m proud to call them my friends, my fitness family.
I’d love to hear your story – how did you know you’d found your ‘tribe’?