In the mid-fifties, long before fitness for women became a fad (as well as a much-advised health regime) my longtime junior high school girlfriend started working out at the “Y” in Glendale, CA. Although she kept encouraging me to join her, I didn’t hop onboard until several years later. After all, I was an active tennis player, took ballet/jazz lessons, and was the busy mother of three sons. I didn’t need to work out. In my thinking, stinky gyms were for men only.

Upon moving to the beach in the early ‘70s, the first thing hubby did was secure a membership in San Clemente’s Ocean View Tennis Club. While playing there, one of my tennis partners opened an Aerobics Studio inviting me to join. As a lover of dance … music and movement were more appealing to me than working out in a gym, so I decided to give it a try. And true to my nature (my hubby used to say, “Why can’t you just join something and have a good time? Why do you always have to be in charge?”), it wasn’t long before I found myself studying to become an instructor. For the next 10 years I did just that, teaching the 7am class three days a week at Bodyshapers Exercise Studio in Capistrano Beach, CA, along with partnering in a traveling aerobics business offering individual sessions and classes from San Clemente to Laguna Niguel, CA.

During that time I couldn’t believe how my fitness level increased, I became a much stronger tennis player, with quicker movements and longer endurance. And, after suffering a ski injury in Mammoth (which I know would have broken my leg if I hadn’t been in such good physical condition), within a month I was back teaching an aerobics class whose level left my three surfer sons huffing, puffing and gasping for breath.

Having now advanced to my “golden years,” I no longer teach aerobics, but I still play tennis (when injuries permit), enjoy Zumba classes, and take daily walks on the beach.

As for my lifelong friend, she has been taking Jazzercise classes for the last several years maintaining the fitness she has pursued her entire life. Like me, she is enjoying reasonably good health, and per our friendship pact we are doing our best to grow old gracefully together.

Although miles now separate us – she lives in Los Angeles – we talk regularly by phone, sometimes travel together, and visit often. She is like a sister to me and every time I make the effort to work out I remember how lucky I am to have her for a friend.

I have heard it said that one is fortunate in life  if they can count their true friends on one hand. I’m not sure that is entirely the case, but what I do know is that true friends walk beside you, are always there for you and inspire you to be the best you can be. My sister/friend has done all that for me and much more. And I never forget that it was her fitness foresight, that inspired me to keep fit in the early years of our friendship, and I know for sure that it is what continues to motivate me today.

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