It’s funny how friendships can form from chance. Angelica Reyes and Mark Hopkins have been members of the HAC Run Club for years, but only just developed a bond in the last year or so over microbiomes.
Originally from Mexico City, Angelica Reyes and her family planned a move to Hockessin after her husband accepted a position in Wilmington in 2014. Fortunately, she had a friend that lived nearby, and when she’d traveled with her husband to see the area, her friend invited her to take a hot yoga class at HAC. Angelica enjoyed not only the class, but the connection with her friend. She also knew that her daughters would love the maze and pool area at the club and decided that living near to HAC would be a huge benefit to her and her family.
Angelica wasn’t much into sports as a child and adolescent and hadn’t ever really been a consistent exerciser. That changed about eight years ago when she started running. She’d done a few 10ks and wanted to meet new people, so she decided to join HAC’s Run Club.
Mark, on the other hand, had always been an avid exerciser. From tennis in high school to cycling competitively in college, cardio sports were a big part of Mark’s life. He became interested in completing a duathlon or triathlon around six years ago (at about the same time Angelica moved to town). He joined the Run Club to help his endurance and strength on foot and came to really enjoy running.
Over time, he experimented with hiking, including to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. He and his wife, Mary, have continued to undertake cycling adventures, such as riding from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.! Through his drive to continue to improve and take on new challenges, Mark became interested in improving performance through food and recently decided to try veganism.
Mark had always focused on tweaking his regimen and trying different physical components to see athletic progress and became very interested in how what you eat determines how you perform. One day, Mark and Angelica happened to get into a conversation on microbiomes, and this mutual interest in high-performance diets led these long-time Run Club members to find a common interest after being in the same club for nearly five years!
This conversation sparked what would become a meaningful friendship that would help them through their workouts. As they became more familiar with one another, they found that they shared a similar pace and, because of that, were optimal partners for hill sprints. By running together, they compelled the other to stay on pace and keep up at a higher speed, but on their own, likely wouldn’t have pushed as hard.
This teamwork principle has been proven through studies done on increasing athletic performance. Studies have shown a substantial improvement in physical health and positive behaviors linked to friendship, especially when the social connection is linked to exercise. In addition to a lower risk for depression, adults who report strong social bonds have lower blood pressure, stress levels, and healthier BMIs, as well as faster recovery rates from illnesses. Plus, we know that you’re more likely to show up for class if you’ve committed to another person to be there. What’s more, Tom Rath describes in his book, Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, a social relationships study he conducted showing that you are 500% more likely to eat healthy if your best friend is a healthy eater.
As we continue to navigate our socially distant world and deal with our less frequent social interactions, it can be tempting to turn to social media to get our friendship fix. However, studies have shown that heavy social media use actually increases feelings of loneliness. Additionally, social media interaction often lacks the depth that person-to-person interaction would provide.
If you’re not ready to come back inside a fitness club, outdoor classes, groups, and programs are a great option. We also encourage you to look for live virtual fitness classes or other live virtual opportunities to meet new people, try new things, and most importantly, make friends that might last a lifetime! What have you got to lose?