Gym Friendship Takes Them Thousands of Miles Away

Article Date: Apr 15, 2014

Sharon and Pat at Lakeside Wellness Center

Pat Tonar fought cancer four times and joined the Alegent Creighton Health Lakeside Wellness Center to feel better.

Sharon Ramsey joined Lakeside Wellness 12 years ago because it was on her way home from her job at the courthouse. She liked the treadmills and the elliptical machines.

Somehow the two women ended up talking in a spinning class.

"The friendship was instant," Ramsey said. "I felt like we'd always know each other."

They started calling and seeing each other outside of class. And they kept up the workouts.

"There is tons of research to support that having a friend in class with you helps you stay active," said Angie Roth, supervisor of clinical fitness at Lakeside Wellness.

"We're both outgoing and like to have fun," Tonar said. "We clicked. We don't take life as seriously as some."

Tonar's "bucket list" included traveling more. One day Ramsey casually mentioned, "Maybe we could take a trip together."

As quickly as they became friends, they signed up for their whirlwind trip. "Neither of us had ever been to Europe," Ramsey said. So it was off for 15 days to London, Paris, Rome, Lucerne, Venice, Florence and more.

"Both of these ladies always had the class laughing," Roth said. "Another lady in the class talked about living in Europe and before I know it, Sharon and Pat are planning their trip to Europe together like they've known each other for years instead of months."

Ramsey and Tonar called it the "trip of a lifetime."

"It was like one big slumber party," Ramsey said.

"We were the popular kids," Tonar added. "We laughed all the time."

Their Lakeside Wellness workouts prepared them for a lot of walking and an itinerary that Ramsey called "physically demanding."

"No one did it better than us," Tonar smiled.

It's not uncommon for people to make friends in a group exercise setting, said Roth. "Day in and day out you are there like a team striving to work toward a health-related goal. These people next to you are the only ones who know how you feel."

Since joining Lakeside Wellness, Tonar has lost over 100 pounds. She still goes five or six times a week -- one-and-a-half hours at a time -- and continues upper and lower body workouts with a trainer. "I'm so much healthier. I fly a lot and I'm so comfortable in the seats now!"

Ramsey is so active she's even gone sleddding with her granddaughters. "I want the health benefits, especially as I get older. When you retire all you do is sit. Nobody wants to be sitting in a wheelchair."

Having a friend at the gym "makes it much more enjoyable," Tonar said. "I feel like it's a home, especially when you see the same people all the time."

"And the employees are wonderful," Ramsey added. "Their personalities are all something else."

The Lakeside wellness employees appreciate the two friends. "It's a beautiful thing to witness and experience how close people can become just by taking a group exercise class," Roth said. "Pat and Sharon found it quickly and they have a lot of life ahead to take more trips and share more stories that inspire many."


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