When Peer Pressure Is a Good Thing

A little over two years ago, I stepped foot in the Hamilton Family YMCA, took the tour, and signed up for a membership. I hadn’t been to a gym for at least five years, when I was working and my employer covered most of my cost. I’d been to a birthday party at the Y and seen their awesome facilities for children. I had one kid at home with me all the time and another home a couple days a week. I felt a little on the edge of insanity, and I figured this was a way I could have an hour to myself and do something for my health.

Wanting to explore everything the Y had to offer, and in the midst of a bad time for pain in my back and hip, I decided with great trepidation to try a water aerobics class

Trepidation? I was petrified. This introvert was so scared of being foolish, not being able to keep up, not knowing what to do, or not being able to finish the class. 

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With two plus years of water aerobics under my belt, it’s now pretty much my favorite thing in the world. I love hanging out with my bathing suit buddies, most of whom treat me like I am 16 because, well, I am generally about 30 years or more younger than they are. They cheered me through my last pregnancy, encourage me about momming, and the exercise and friendly chatter boosts my spirits. 

It also taught me something about myself: for me, the key to exercising longer and harder, is group exercise. 

I do lift weight and walk on the treadmill or outside or do the elliptical as well. But on those days, I’m constantly checking the time and seeing if I can quit yet. I talk myself into shorter and shorter periods of exercise. And, like in the past, I eventually just give up. Doing an exercise video at home? Same thing. I quit halfway through out of boredom and lack of accountability. 

But in a group class, I almost always press on until the end unless I am having serious back pain (which for me can turn really ugly). The social aspect, plus the feeling of being accountable to the group and instructor, keep me going. Yes, it’s a head game; I don’t think anyone would really judge me for leaving early.

But, even if it’s all in my brain, the positive peer pressure pushes me on. 

I think it is the same with parenting sometimes. Admitting out loud that you want to conquer a goal brings more accountability. Visiting a breastfeeding support group will not only get you some good tips but might keep you pressing on when it gets hard and you want to give up. Signing up for a PlayGym class might get you out of the house and meeting other parents when you’d rather stay home in your pjs and watch Peppa Pig…again. Even blogging can be a kind of accountability, confessing weaknesses and areas where you want to grow. 

So maybe peer pressure isn’t always the worst thing in the world. 

image credit: terren in virginia 

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