Most of us spend our days on autopilot, workout classes included. Truth be told, we all know that we should take time to get to know the person on the mat next to us… but we don’t. Time is of the essence, right?
Not quite—and Alice Ko knows that for sure.
While working out at one of her favorite studios, Kalev Fitness in Vancouver, Alice was struck by “an amazingly fit girl who looked like a personal trainer.” But she carried on with her workout and didn’t think about the girl again — until she saw her at two more of her classes. Coincidence or not, Alice went up to this girl—her name is Dana Lu—and well, the rest is history.
They went on a lunch date and discovered that not only did they share a similar passion for health and fitness but they also worked in similar industries. Since their initial meetup, the two have traveled the world together, worked together on business adventures and supported one another through difficult self-acceptance journeys.
We spoke with Alice to learn just how much this friendship has changed her life. Spoiler: It’s done more than you can imagine.
How has your friendship with Dana evolved from the first day you met her at Kalev Fitness?
AK: I can’t believe I have only known Dana for three years—our anniversary is around the same time that ClassPass launched in Vancouver—and she is now one of my closest friends. I joined ClassPass and met Dana around a very vulnerable time in my life. I had just started my serious fitness journey and I was aching to find friends who found as much joy and passion about working out and trying new ways to sweat as I did.
And Dana was that person for you. In what way has she impacted your life the most?
AK: Most importantly, we have both battled personal body image issues and I can say without a doubt that her presence, understanding and words have helped me more than words from friends I’ve known for more than 10 years.
What challenges have you overcome together?
AK: Dana also unknowingly introduced me to a trainer that changed my life. Dana told me to attend a class taught by Nikki Gallos, and, although I missed the first one (oops!), I eventually made it to one of her classes. Nikki had battled addiction and eating disorders before becoming a trainer and her messages of positivity and her personal stories helped us both.
In fact, Nikki helped me overcome my own eating disorder. I had been in formal treatment for a year, and the timing was kismet because it was around this time that Nikki started offering services to help others. I often think about what would have happened had I never met Dana and Nikki through ClassPass.
What is your favorite memory you’ve shared together?
AK: My favorite life memory with Dana happened in South America. I spend part of my year over in Medellín, Colombia, so when Dana made the trek down south to visit me, I was overjoyed! We ate tropical fruits, avocados and plantains until our mouths hurt, worked out of cute coffee shops together, explored the city and learned more about the fascinating history of Medellín, and, of course, worked out together by hiking around small towns.
That sounds like a dream. So, there may be some people out there who wouldn’t walk up to a stranger at a workout class like you did. What would you tell them?
AK: First things first: Working out with a friend gives you an automatic accountability partner. By signing up for the same classes every week, it’s a guarantee to yourself that you’ll make it to the gym. The chance you will disappoint your friend and sleep in are very low. Beyond being efficient, working out is more fun with someone by your side! You know those days when you hit a personal best with your kettlebell swing or get through all your burpees without stopping? There’s nothing better than enjoying that moment with a friend and motivating each other to keep going and push harder.
But if that’s not convincing enough (it should be), exercising with a friend is also practical. Exercising together is akin to killing two birds with one stone. Nowadays, everyone’s schedules are packed and it can be hard to find free time for a coffee or a meal together. At the gym, you have time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company before, during and after the class.
Inspired by Dana and Alice? Check out some of their favorite Vancouver-based studios: