I ran myself over to what would have been the closest gym if we lived in our house and signed up. I decided that I deserved just a little bit of me time and that was going to be it. I had no idea the significance that decision would play in the next 9 years of my life.
Soon I was attending classes there and met Laura, who had also recently joined that gym. Laura is a local preacher's wife who likes to not fit the preacher's wife mold. My earliest memory of her at the gym -- NO idea what we were discussing, but Laura laughed and said, "Honey, we've been married almost 15 years. If I shave my legs, that's foreplay." Yeah, I was going to like Laura.
I think Amy was there all along. Amy is a little more like me. Seemingly quiet... until she has an opinion. I know when the gym moved to "the new place" (where it's been for 7 years now) that Amy was there and that's when Amy and Laura and I all started going to some of the same classes regularly.
Before too long I got a job -- stinkin' income! -- and had to quit that regular class and sorely missed my friends. I would catch them on every other Friday, but it wasn't the same (of course). In time, I quit that job (theoretically to write, but we all know it was so I could work out with my friends! :-)
The class that we went to most often together was a weights class -- Body Pump if you know it. I'll be honest. We would talk all the way through it. Oh, we were working out (want to feel my biceps?) but we were catching up on life and diverting our attention from the pain in the mean time.
For the record -- we were frequently in trouble in class for our talking. We got talked to by the teacher -- and would stop talking for a while. Then the people on the other side of the class would start talking, inspiring us to continue our conversations. Until we got ugly looks from the front row. Or chewed out by the angry exerciser. And the cycle would start again. Truly, we had long conversations (at Starbucks -- not in class) about this.
Through class or at Starbucks we discussed it all, big and little. We talked our way through children's illnesses and surgeries, sports victories, defeats, and struggles, we've wrestled, prayed, and cried through two husband's unemployments, struggled over parenting decisions and children's heartbreaks, frequently coming to tears right there at the weight rack.
Muscles and bodies grew stronger, and so did the friendship. I honestly had NO IDEA how much those girls -- my "gym buddies" as they became known around my house -- meant to me. Until I needed someone to be strong. Or consistent. Or both. And they were.
(My two closest gym buddies, Amy, far left, and Laura, in yellow then me, and Rebekah our body pump instructor, far right, my last day at Body Pump the day I moved)