Author: Jarret Morgan
Editor: Brentsen Wolf, PharmD
From fitness competitions to casual exercise, having friends to work out with or talk with is an amazing motivation. The stimulus of being pushed by a friend is so strong that it's rarely matched by one’s own desire to push their boundaries. As someone who trained solo nearly exclusively for most of my life, I didn’t know what I was missing. Friends can give you the motivation to hit all-time personal records, help pass the time when you are trudging through the workout, or move you out of your comfort zone to strive for a new 5k time.
Going back to my early days of powerlifting, I could lift by myself for hours every single day because I was so motivated to achieve my goals. However, when I stepped on stage for the first time, I was blown away at how everyone was so uplifting and truly wanted to push each other's limits. The overwhelming shouting and cheering from the crowd of strangers gave me an absolutely massive adrenaline rush that pushed me to achieve personal records in all three lifts as well as bust a few blood vessels in my eye. It was a similar feeling to when I started working out at a nearby powerlifting gym, and besides the screaming and hollering to finish a lift, everyone was always kind and helpful in my learning as I got stronger.
Once I began my graduate program, I lost the same interest I had in going to the gym for two hours a day, six days a week. I didn’t have any goals. If I showed up, I was happy. I began working out more intensely for shorter periods of time and fewer days a week. I didn’t care nearly as much as I used to, and it showed. When I started lifting with one of my classmates, it was much more enjoyable. Besides getting to share tips and teach them about exercising, I enjoyed talking about commonalities and shared interests. Getting to know someone through labored breathing between sets is highly memorable and allows time to pass when you don’t want to be there.
As I moved on from powerlifting, I attempted to move into a maintenance phase throughout my education. Instead, I found myself striving in ways I would never have expected! My friends were reaching for their goals in Olympic weightlifting, running, CrossFit, bodybuilding, cycling, and mountain biking and while I don’t suggest you compare yourself to others, I was jealous that they were doing it. So, I thought, "If they can do it, why can’t I?" This bridges my fitness journey into the present stage where I focus on overall health and trying new things as opposed to being heavily focused on pure power. I tried and enjoyed so many new things. The most surprising was distance running. As a sprinter in high school, I found myself running further than a mile for the first time in my life and eventually worked my way up to a 10k. Point is, I never would have picked up running if it wasn’t for my friends motivating me to move outside my comfort zone.
I hope that you can see all the positive impacts others have had on me throughout my journey and that you may seek the same. Exercise with others can push your boundaries beyond what you thought you could achieve, keep you consistent, allow time to pass quicker in the painful moments, move you outside your comfort zone to try new things, and think more wholly of your fitness journey and well-being. Besides that, you can make some really great friends which are worth it on their own!
Author Bio: Jarret Morgan is a 1st-year pharmacy student at the Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville and a part-time inpatient pharmacy technician at a local hospital. He aspires to one day attain a fellowship in the pharmaceutical industry where he can broaden his skillset and make a difference at the macro scale. In his free time, Jarret enjoys exercising, playing sports/video games with his wife, and spending time with his grandfather.