These Philadelphia Women Share the Benefits of Group Exercise and Tips to Help You Find Your Fitness Community

Being consistent with your training program is important to achieving your goals. And the best way to do that is to find people who motivate you and hold you accountable.

First, identify an activity that you enjoy, such as dancing, gardening, walking, or cycling. Once you have decided on your exercise, find a friend, family member, or a group of like-minded people who also enjoy this type of exercise. You can find them on social media, such as Meet Up and Next Door, or even at a local gym.

In my gym, Fergie’s Instructional Training, a group of local women meet every Saturday morning for an outdoor training class. They call themselves “Fergie’s Fit Friends”. Ages, races, sizes and origins differ. What they have in common is their desire to stay fit (in other words, to be independent and on the verge of enjoying activities that require physical endurance), while also being active. engaging in rewarding and non-competitive social interactions.

Throughout the pandemic, with the closures, the freezing weather, the mask mandates, the business closures and all the limitations we have faced, these women have never wavered in their commitment to themselves and their health goals. Stress, depression, cabin fever, loneliness, weight gain, and lack of motivation all affected the group at some point over the past 20 months, but consistently exercise played a role. a major role in maintaining sanity.

I recently asked some of the band members what made them keep going. Here’s what they said:

  • “It’s the day a week that I do something just for myself.” – Yovna Destin

  • “Being in nature with others who are also pushing their limits recharges me. We sweat, laugh, and support each other in our fitness goals. “- Gina Donato

  • “My ‘why’ when I started was related to my weight, but my ‘why’ has changed over time. Now is the time for me to take advantage of my friends and focus on what I need physically and mentally. – Donna Biddle

  • “My boot camper comrades are inspiring and make me want to surpass myself every week. Since joining this large group of fitness friends, I have successfully run two virtual 5K races. – Robin Vadel

  • “I come because exercising with the class has helped me recover time and time again. I like to feel like I’m part of a team. – Sharon Benjamin

  • “We strive to improve our strength, go strong and feel the burn. When we’re done, it feels good. – Marie Santarelli

  • “My Saturday morning Fit friends are more than just workout buddies; they became friends. I especially cherished this during COVID. Being outside and working out with this wonderful group of people helped me through a tough time. – Barbara Keck

Whether you want to start your own outdoor training group or join an established training camp, start with flexibility exercises to allow for safe off-road movements. When exercising outdoors, you face varying surfaces with inclines, inclines, potholes, boulders and stones to jump over, wet leaves, and even puddles. water and mud.

The following exercises prepare your lower body joints for your outdoor training:

1. Ankles. This exercise improves ankle flexibility and brings more blood flow to the feet.

Sit up straight in a sturdy chair with your back supported. Hold the sides of the chair while pulling your abdominal muscles towards the spine and extend both legs in front of you. Rotate ankles to the left 20 reps, then repeat to the right. Make sure your shoulders are not strained and that you are breathing during this exercise. Now point and flex your feet for 20 repetitions. Repeat each set twice.

2. Calves. These exercises stretch the calves, improve the range of motion of the ankle, and relax the Achilles tendons.

Advanced: Stand behind a chair and place your hands on the back of the chair. Slide your left foot back about two feet, resting your left heel on the floor and slowly bending your right knee until you feel a stretch in the calf muscle of your left leg. Hold for four deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Beginner: If your calves and hamstrings are really tight, use a large towel or stretch strap to perform an assisted calf stretch. Sit up straight with your legs extended in front of you. Place the loop of the strap or the middle of the towel around your foot (keep it closer to the ball of the foot for more effective stretching). Gently pull your toes towards your shin until you feel the stretch in your calf. Hold for four deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

3. Knees. This exercise relaxes the knee joint and supporting tendons, which helps reduce the risk of tears or injuries.

Lie on your back on the floor, using your elbows and forearms to support you. Bend your left knee – this is your supporting knee. Bend and straighten your right knee 10 to 20 times allowing your foot to slide forward and back. Repeat twice on each leg.

4. Hips. This exercise lubricates and loosens the hip joint, protecting against injury and allowing smoother movement as you maneuver.

Lie on your back with your knees bent over your chest. Place your hands on your knees. Draw wide circles 10 times with each knee clockwise, then repeat counterclockwise.

Find your “birds of a feather” and get moving. Know that wanting support is not a sign of weakness. It is a natural advantage to be human, and we are there for each other.

Yvonne Ferguson Hardin (Fergie) is the owner of Fergie’s Instructional Training in Germantown, where she specializes in educational movement programs for users aged 55 and over. For more information, visit

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