SUCCESS STORY / Kathy Costley Broyles, 65, of Sandy Springs

“It’s really worth it to reach out to your neighbors or whomever to have fun and exercise — the rewards are tremendous.”

Editor’s note: When the pandemic shut down gyms and indoor exercising, a group of neighbors formed their own workout group, the P.E. Group. We have previously featured co-leaders Pamela Zendt and Ilsa Mendoza-Jackson, and member Dana Kuehn.

When she started: September 2020

Age: 65 years

Personal life: “I live in Sandy Springs,” Broyles said. “I’m an artist (kathycostleybroyles.com). I’m married and I have five grown children. I have a dog named Puddle, who features in my exercise. I’m retired from administrative work at an arts foundation. I have an art studio in Chamblee where I paint at Urban Art Collective (urbanartcollective5655.com).”

The lifestyle change: “I already knew Pam. She asked me to come to the P.E. Group that was meeting in her cul-de-sac. I didn’t go until September 2020. I went, and it was just wonderful. I’ve gone ever since then,” Broyles said. “It’s wonderful because, first of all, I’ve made all these new friends. You get to be together outside where it’s beautiful. There’s this constant text with the group going on all week long. Usually someone is texting something. We share advice and resources, like the handyman. We share a lot of stories and laughter and support.”

Kathy’s how-tos:

1. Say yes: “The first step was just saying yes. It took me a little while to say I’ll try it. If someone invites you to do something new, just say yes. Saying yes doesn’t commit you — you’ve gotta try new stuff.”

2. Priorities: “Making that commitment and making it a priority, then getting stronger doing it.”

3. Move at your own pace: “Knowing my own body and paying attention to what I’m doing to stay safe with what I’m doing and increase my weights when I feel ready.”

Exercise routine: Three days a week she meets with the P.E. Group; one day a week she does an online class. “Puddle and I walk every day,” Broyles said. “This is the first time that I have consistently worked with weights, and that has been great. I definitely feel stronger in my arms. In the beginning, I was using 3-pound weights. I am at 5 pounds now, and I’m looking at my 8-pound weights. ”

Biggest challenge: “The biggest challenge was just saying yes. I don’t know that I really had a challenge in doing it — I still look forward to it,” Broyles said. “I guess the weather could have been a challenge. I was driving home from the art studio one day and thinking, oh gosh it’s 40 degrees and it’s damp. I was thinking I don’t know if I want to go. They sent out the notice and they said they were coming, so I said yeah, I’m coming. That is one of the best parts about it: You have people encouraging each other.”

Kathy’s top tips:

1. ”It’s never too late to create new habits.”

2. “It’s never too late to make a change, to start something new.”

3. “Just to get outside. In the fall or spring, when the flocks of birds are flying over and the sun is setting, the sun is shining on the underside of their wings, there’s these flashes of gold, like glitter.”

How has your life changed: “We’ve shared the ups and downs of the pandemic,” Broyles said. “Everybody is so supportive. When I had my art show, they bought my artwork. If it wasn’t for this group I wouldn’t have these six people in my life. I would love it if we could encourage others to do it. You only need a few people. It could also be a walking group. I am so grateful to all the wonderful ladies in the group for getting it going. ... It’s really worth it to reach out to your neighbors or whomever to have fun and exercise — the rewards are tremendous.”


Seeking readers’ stories of lifestyle changes: We’re looking for stories about changing health habits. While The Atlanta Journal-Constitution does not endorse any specific programs, we include names and links for the benefit of readers who want further information. If you would like to share your story of a lifestyle change, please contact reporter Michelle C. Brooks and include your email address, phone number, and before and after photos (by mail or JPEG). You can email her directly at: ajcsuccessstories@gmail.com.