For friends and workout partners Christy (Zider) Pearce and Christina Tangredi, it all began with a chance meeting at the Andrew Pearce store in Hartland. While mulling over handcrafted wooden bowls – Christy owns the business with her husband Andrew Pearce and Christina was shopping – the two quickly discovered a mutual passion for yoga and running. The stars aligned further when they learned that they both lived in Norwich. Christy joined Christina’s Norwich Recreation yoga class the very next day, and their friendship and workout partnership was on its way, much to their mutual benefit.
Playing and exercising with a friend can double your health benefits, according to behavioral medicine researchers at Michigan State University. The relationship with another person motivates us to keep that commitment to getting up in the wee hours for a bike ride, walk or run, to play ice hockey, or practice yoga, or hitting the gym at the end of the work day, especially in the winter months.
For Christy and Christina, working out together has been fun and rewarding. Christina says, “We have a lot in common: running, sports, yoga. She’s one of those people I feel like I’ve known forever.” In fact, the two friends make exercise and wellness activities part of their daily routine. Christy adds, “We had an automatic connection. We’re both into health and wellness and eating well. People look at us like we’re absolutely crazy because we’ll do a yoga class then go for a run together.”
The multi-sport, all-in-one workouts actually aren’t so crazy for these busy young moms who both work full time. While Christy and Christina developed their relationship through the practice of yoga and running together, they both like to maintain good health and stay active on a regular basis. They agree that exercise, health, and good nutrition will always be an important priority in their lives, as well as for their families.
Christina works as a nurse practitioner and has two golden retrievers, her ‘furry children.’ She and her husband relocated to Dartmouth from Florida where she had a thriving yoga practice. “I started doing yoga in Florida and I enjoyed it so much. My teacher told me to apply for a scholarship to take a teacher training. I won the scholarship and loved every second of it. From that moment on I vowed that I would teach to give back. I cherish it every day. I teach Ashtanga yoga, which is very athletic and disciplined.”
Christy grew up in Vermont and attended Boston College on a full scholarship to play Division I field hockey for the BC Eagles. “Training at the level I was at in college was almost a full-time job. Running was always the one way for me to mentally relax and be on my own. Now that my kids are old enough (Madison, 5, Oliver 3), I look forward to getting involved in more local races – I’ve done the Covered Bridges Half Marathon and the Boston Marathon. I enjoy cycling as well. I feel like I’m so in tune with my body today.”
To say Christy and Christina have come to admire each other’s commitment to health and each other’s special skills and strengths in the course of their friendship is an understatement. Their mutual motivations – health maintenance, overall wellness, injury prevention, and the joy of exercising together – have taken their friendship to a deeper level. “I think Christina is amazing,” says Christy. “She brings a lot of mindfulness and healthy nutrition aspects to her NP (nurse practitioner) practice. She’s a great mentor and a great friend. I love her energy, and she motivates me to keep going. When I run with her it brings me back to running with my teammates.”
Christina echoes her friend’s sentiments. “She (Christy) is really fast and fit. She pushes me. When she takes my yoga class, I push her. She’s an inspiration of mine. She gets up really early, puts her headlamp on, and runs out the door. Every time I think about hitting the snooze button, I think of Christy getting up early and going out for a run.” In fact, Christy inspired Christina to start a Monday morning yoga class for young moms who drop their children off at school, reaching a whole group of people who may not have been able to fit yoga into their schedules.
Speaking of snooze buttons – it’s better for your health to resist the temptation – there is growing evidence that going back to sleep for short stints actually decreases the benefits gained during a good night’s sleep. Get up when the alarm goes off and you’ll be that much more alert for those early morning workouts and throughout the rest of the day.
As Christina acknowledges, “We like the challenge. We like to work our muscles and get a good workout – it sets the tone for the day and helps us to feel strong and confident. Because I’ve been practicing so long, I have a lot of strength in yoga, and Christy runs hills and has a lot of running skills. So we help each other.” Christy agrees, “We work hard, but it’s fun. All my life, athletics was so intense, but now I have been able to find joy in physical activity. I realize you can have fun exercising in a recreational way, sharing it with friends, while feeling good and staying healthy.”
Both women agree it’s important to get into a routine to achieve a balanced, healthy lifestyle amidst a busy schedule, and it also allows them to catch up as friends. While they have a lot in common, they also lean on each other for support and socialize with each other’s families. Says Christina, “We do take time to go out to dinner and double date. I love to cook and Christy does, too. She’ll come over we’ll make a healthy meal, something we all can enjoy. We swap recipes and love Asian food. We exchange ideas for healthy meals like smoothies that fuel our workout and maintain our high energy levels.”
As if you had any doubts about the health and wellness benefits of working out with a friend, consider that having a workout partner immensely reduces the chances that you’ll drop out of a class or give up your planned routine. Researchers at the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found that couples who worked out separately had a 43% dropout rate, while those who went to the gym together had only a 6.3% dropout rate. On the psychological and emotional side, studies show that exercise can boost brainpower, self-confidence, productivity at work, memory, and creativity. “I think I’m a better Mom and a better person when I get that release from exercise. Athletics helped me become who I am today,” says Christy.
And the results of the wooden bowl adventure? Christina purchased a Pearce original handmade cutting board, which no doubt shows up at dinners the couples enjoy together. And as Christy notes, “Our friendship has been really special. It’s wonderful to have found a really great friend.”