It started in the spring of 2021 with an email to all staff: “Are you interested in being a part of a fitness group?” A year later, 18 educators and school staff text each other with their workout for the day. This fitness challenge was the brainchild of Teri-Kay Johnson, learning support coordinator at Holy Cross School in North Portland, and her husband, Kevin Johnson, a fan of all things Holy Cross. As Kevin explained, the goal was to keep everyone “motivated and accountable,” with Teri-Kay adding that the purpose was to support one another and not be competition-based.

The COVID pandemic presented many challenges and social distancing took its toll. Teri-Kay wanted this text group to help “connect each of us to one another” while “helping our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves.” Marie Vandecoevering, former middle school math teacher at Holy Cross, said, “During a time of social isolation and feeling defeated as a teacher, this group thread and fitness streak helped me feel connected and motivated both inside the classroom and out. It has been so inspiring to see what everyone has been able to do.”

In addition to sharing the daily workout, participants have shared family and vacation photos. Teri-Kay and Kevin loved the camaraderie and the intimacy created through the group texts. “It was fun to see what everyone was doing . . . bike rides, walks on the beach, or even home improvement projects,” Teri-Kay said.

Lucy Neary, former music teacher at Holy Cross, agreed. “I’m grateful to Teri-Kay and Kevin Johnson for starting this streak,” Neary said. “I’ve loved being in touch with my Holy Cross friends throughout the streak.”

Lupita Zamora, instructional assistant at Holy Cross, said that, as someone with health challenges, she often needs to take long breaks from even light exercise.

“Being part of a group with people I trust and who inspire me has really helped me return to exercise every time, more readily, and with a good mindset,” Zamora said. “I find that when I do what I can, which is often not much because I compare it to others, it is joyfully accepted by the group and I find myself feeling proud that I even tried to get back on track, while also feeling encouraged and excited to return to being consistent.”

Though some of the staff have changed schools, their connection to Holy Cross remains strong, in part due to the fitness group.