When you were in high school, your mama was praying that you’d run with a “good” crowd.

Parental influence sets the dye of your personality, but there comes a time when your background gets tie-dyed by non-familial influences. If you were a jock, you hung with jocks. If you were a head, you and your friends smoked a lot of pot. If you were a thug, your buds persuaded you to shoplift lipstick and cigarettes.

Of course, you’re reading an amateur’s fitness blog, which points strongly toward you being a nerd in high school. You didn’t play field hockey with the boomers, you didn’t lurk malevolently in the smoking lounge with students dressed entirely in black, you didn’t date college students.

No, you were debating the relative merits of Star Trek vs. Star Wars, you were collecting Louisa May Alcott and Little House books, you were wondering if the Debate Club was really as scary as it sounded. And your friends were the people who did the same. (And you love them to this day.)

I was thinking about the importance of running with a good crowd when I was working out with Grace today. Body Dynamics (in Falls Church, VA) isn’t a very big place. I visited one of those massive warehouse gyms with a friend a few weeks ago; Body Dynamics isn’t like that. In this clean, unfussy, sunlit world, I’m now on a smile-and-nod level with all kinds of people…

…and they’re people who look like me. That is, this isn’t Gold’s Gym, where muscle-bound weight lifters would probably look at you like you’re taking up space and using valuable oxygen. At Body Dynamics, the clients are all older, pudgier, move like they could use some help. That’s why they’re there.

They are my allies. They’re the “good” crowd I’m running with at the moment… and I’m grateful! My non-workout friends are all supportive and kind about me spending so much time in bulging exercise clothes, but I suspect my effort can seem to them like a silent accusation. (I know this because I’ve felt that way. A friend appears, all rosy and toned from working out, and I’d feel pasty and sedentary and pathetic; that’s the kind of friend that maybe you draw away from a little.)

So I try to not dwell TOO much on my workouts (saving it up for a blog that people can choose to read or not)… and I’m grateful for the people I know who are at a place in their lives when they, like me, can devote time and energy to getting healthy. These people are ready and eager to discuss the endless challenge of the sugar demon, or the merits of one masseuse over another, or a new exercise or work-out plan. These people help me keep my enthusiasm high.

I suspect “these people” are actually YOU—and so I offer you my thanks! We’re doing this together, even if we’ve never met.

And if you’re someone who cannot yet devote the time and energy to getting healthier but wish you could—and there are a whole lot in this particular crowd—then I hope you know I respect your yearning. Every one of us is doing all that we can manage every single day; if the time isn’t right yet for you to devote your energies to health, then don’t feel bad about yourself. Tomorrow may be better. You’re a good person, even if your waistline is thick or your knees hurt. Really.

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If you start out with high school crowds, it’s law that you need a Breakfast Club photo – right? Typical that all of them were beautiful; Hollywood doesn’t understand the TRUE high school clique, but never mind. Still a great movie!



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