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It’s 5:15 in the morning and though I’m tempted to stay in my nice, warm bed, I drag myself up and change into my gym clothes. After grabbing a quick breakfast, I’m on the road, arriving at the gym with enough time for a warm-up before my 6 a.m. workout begins.

It’s there on the treadmills that I meet up with my fellow boot campers: Kitty and Jackie are my most regular sidekicks; Michele, Marna, and Natalie usually join us one day a week; others attend more sporadically. On any given day, there are three to eight of us, ranging in age from early 30s to mid-60s.

Despite our age differences and varying fitness levels, we push ourselves and each other through the challenging workouts. It’s not about competition, but rather companionship and encouragement — two things I didn’t realize I so desperately needed when it came to my exercise routine not so long ago.

Late last spring, I was struggling to find the right workout regimen — something I would enjoy and stay committed to for more than a week at a time. I was managing to exercise four or five days a week, but it was random and unfocused: Some days I walked or ran; others I lifted weights in my basement; sometimes I did yoga. There was no real purpose to my “plan,” and I wasn’t seeing improvements in my health and fitness. I knew I could feel better in my body, but I felt stuck.

Three years postpartum, I was finally ready to get back to the intensity of the workouts of my prekid days. I was craving something more organized, more strength and power-focused, more challenging. But I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

So when a Life Time personal trainer suggested I try the T.E.A.M. Boot Camp class, I decided it was worth a shot because 1) the workouts were created for me and in line with my fitness goals; and 2) it actually fit in my schedule.

I never expected that joining this little community would be the game-changer that would help me stick with a program long term. I never expected that I would be inspired, challenged, and encouraged in the ways I have been since I started showing up and connecting with my classmates and personal trainers.

I did hope to see changes in my body — that was part of the reason I joined in the first place. But way more rewarding than the physical improvements are the relationships I’ve developed with the group. I look forward to those early-morning moments on the treadmill when I get to learn more about my gym buddies and their reasons for being there. Their “whys” are examples of day-to-day perseverance and dedication, and they motivate me to keep at it, even when it would be easier to stay in bed. (For more on the importance of fitness buddies, see “Strength in Numbers: The Importance of Fitness Buddies“.)

If you’ve been going it alone for a while, let this serve as an example of how your efforts might be more productive and fulfilling with support. For inspiration, check out All-American wrestler Anthony Robles’s story  and learn how his mom, coaches, and fans helped him become unstoppable despite the odds.

There are people out there — maybe it’s a gym buddy, a coworker, your partner, a best friend — who want to support you when you’re struggling. Trust that you can count on them to help you get to the other side, and know that in your own way, you’re helping them move forward, too.

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