Friends in fitness for life

Two bosom buddies are committed to achieving continual fitness goals together with a daily exercise regiment

Miranda Cowan (left) and Brenda Deschenes have done at least 30 minutes of activity on every day since last November — and they are now upping the challenge to 60 minutes per day for the coming year.

These two women are definitely committed to staying fit. Without fail, Brenda Deschenes and Miranda Cowan have had at least 30 minutes of physical activity every, single, day since November 1, 2014.

“Yes, there have been days when we have had colds, injuries or headaches,” said Cowan. “But we have both been healthy enough over the last year that we have managed to get our 30 minutes in — even on crutches.

“I like to say that the reason neither of us have been too sick to get our time in, is because we have made exercise part of our routine.

The exercise gives us fresh air, sunshine, a chance to learn something new, or a chance to visit with each other and also other Team F.I.T. members or friends.”

The two met when they got involved in the Team F.I.T. learn-to-run program at C.E. Barry School and the group has motivated them to stay fit and active.

“The idea started with one of my friends posting the 30/30 challenge (30 minutes of exercise for 30 days) last October for her cross-country ski club,” recalled Cowan. “Pauline Johnson (Team F.I.T. leader) and I decided we would do it as a Team F.I.T. activity to motivate people to stay active when the weather was getting cold and wet. She had some challenges, such as trying a new sport — and we did.”

A good number of locals joined the challenge — as well as family and friends and former Hope residents, stretching from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island.

Each day, challenge members would post their activities on the group’s Facebook page, building on the team spirit and nudging each other to be accountable to the group and, most importantly, to themselves.

“Towards the end of the month, Brenda let me know that some of the participants were going to do a 30/365, so we figured why not try it too?” said Cowan.

Thus, began their amazing challenge, with not even one blemish on their record — through foul weather, or the temptation to take a lazy day, certainly played at their willpower.

“On days that one of us is struggling to feel motivated to do the 30 minutes, the other friend will say ‘come on, let’s get out there, added Cowan.

“Many times, Brenda has done her 30 and I’ve had a long day at work and would rather sit on the couch when I get home — and she’ll come over and we’ll walk together. Or I’ve done my 30 and she isn’t feeling up to the challenge, so I’ll go over to her place and walk with her.” When Hope was hit by the severe ice storm in January, they had the perfect opportunity to take a break — but they didn’t.

“We walked very carefully,” said Deschenes.

Even power outages couldn’t stop them. Deschenes figures she and Cowan have exercised together for over half of the days. Others were solo or with spouses or other friends. When the ice storm knocked their power out, Miranda and her husband Jacob got out the old Victrola hand-cranked record player and practiced their dance moves.

“It was my Aunt Sibyl’s,” said Cowan. “We had no power and the house was chilly because the furnace wasn’t on — but our gas fireplace downstairs was giving off heat.

We had just taken one dance lesson at the studio and I was determined to get my 30 minutes in, so Jacob and I practiced dancing for an hour or so, with some music from the 1930s or 40s.” Running, hiking, YouTube yoga, aquafit, geocaching, rec centre exercise classes, skiing and curling have helped the duo put activity into every day — and now they want to up the challenge to 60 minutes a day for the next year. “We always get our 30 minutes but are often over,” said Cowan. “Some days, we have hiked for 9-plus hours but our rule was no banking time, to take a day off.”

“It will definitely be tougher — but we can do it. said Deschenes. Cown seconded that affirmation.“Yes, we can.” agreed Cowan.