Training at times can be lonely…competing can be even lonelier.


Stories of a Midlife Bikini Mom
3 min readFeb 14, 2024

The first time I saw the term swolemate it was used as a hashtag and had no idea what it meant. I still don’t have a full understanding of it but, “I get it.”

A swolemate is your workout partner, your ride or die, the one who pushes and encourages you even when they need encouragement too.

It’s your workout buddy, but usually also your partner.

A lot of people like to go to the gym with a friend, and in the beginning I was super intimidated to go. I had no idea how any of the machines worked. The last time I had been in a gym it was at an all women’s circuit style gym, that had aerobics classes and nautilus machines. We would use a machine and then take a few steps to a stationary bike, ride for five minutes and then move on to the next machine.

The employees all wore shiny, bright lavender tracksuits and had thick hair-sprayed high ponytails. This probably gives you an idea of the era it was in…

So when I started going to the gym with my significant other, I was a little lost and followed him around mostly. Now that I know what to do (sort of) I actually prefer to be on my own. But sometimes, he and I train together.

Swapping out plates and weights, we alternate, we give knowing glances about some of the regulars, we bop our heads to the music from our headphones (which is always significantly different but oddly in time to what the other is hearing). Mostly, we just are there for companionship.

Training at times can be lonely…competing can be even lonelier.

Often we are at the gym on a Friday night or a weekend morning, we prioritize it in the day, and we may eat differently and/or not drink alcohol depending on the goals as season we are in.

The peer pressure can feel very real at times. Events, gatherings, family dinners can all be awkward when you are bringing your own food or not eating something. I’m a little used to this already being vegan but it still gets stickier when you tell someone you can’t go out for lunch because…well you can’t track the macros.

People look at you like you have wandered off into eating disorder land.

And that’s when the swolemate really comes in — because they got you. They get when you need to bring food with you because you will need a snack. They understand when you are up and running to the kitchen to weight out 20 grams of oats.

I could list the ways they are there, I could talk about sharing protein powder and pre-workout. I could tell you about all of the tracking and scanning bar codes of our food or trying a tricep pulldown in a different position, but none of that will really make the point.

The point is that even on the hard days, they are there. They have your back. They listen. And they cheer you on.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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