SUCCESS STORY / Pamela Zendt, 65, of Sandy Springs, ‘It’s even nicer now to live where I live’

When indoor exercising was out, Zendt and her neighbors headed for the cul-de-sac

Editor’s note: When the pandemic shut down gyms and indoor exercising, Pamela Zendt and her neighbors formed their own workout group. This week begins our series on the P.E. group, beginning with Zendt, the co-leader.

When you started: August 2020

Age: 65 years

Personal life: “I live in Sandy Springs. I’m working on a master of fine arts in creative writing at Kennesaw State University. I’m an avid cyclist, married with grown children and a former school librarian,” Zendt said.

The lifestyle change: “Everybody shut down things in the beginning of the year 2020 because of the pandemic. I’m a lifelong exerciser and outdoors person. I had quit going to the YMCA and working out with weights,” Zendt said. “At one point a group of us neighbors were sitting in the cul-de-sac lamenting that we were not working out as much.” By that Sunday afternoon the P.E. group, as in physical education, began its first workout in the neighborhood cul-de-sac with its co-leader, Zendt. The neighbors began meeting three times a week and are still going strong.

“Someone had a little boombox and music. I really care about my arms and my posture, so I came up with a little arm set we could do,” Zendt said. “Everybody brings whatever weights they feel like. ... We’re not trying to lose weight. We probably look about the same, but we feel great. It’s been easy and invigorating for us. We’ve all increased our friendships so much, our relationships have deepened so much. It’s one of those really nice things that have come out of the pandemic.”

Change in eating habits: “We talk about food all the time and let each other know about healthy foods we find,” Zendt said.

Pamela’s how-tos:

1. Love the ones you’re with: “I think that is the biggest strength. They are all right here, I can see their houses.”

2. Core curriculum: “I would really think it’s important to stick to a solid core curriculum instead of changing it next week. If there’s something unusual, then there’s an easy way for you not to do it.”

3. Stick to the schedule: “We were consistent, and after a while, we all just scheduled around it. It helped that we started during the shutdown and we were all home anyway.”

Exercise routine: “I work out with the group three times per week,” Zendt said. “I also bike with a biking group and go walking. We kicked off a subset group of pickleball players just this past summer.”

Biggest challenge: “The challenge at first was, I can’t go and exercise indoors. I was very unmotivated to do that on my own. I would go bike and hike and do a lot of things on my own, but lifting weights — I didn’t have a habit of that,” Zendt said. “Because of the really great people in the group and the collective energy, it hasn’t been too challenging after that.”

Pamela’s top tips:

  • “Don’t be intimidated by the weather. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you warm up.”
  • “Listen to a podcast, listen to music or listen to the world.”
  • “If you know of a nicer place to walk, give yourself the gift of a different place. I think just freshen up your life by going somewhere else. Don’t feel bad if you have to drive somewhere. It will get boring if you walk in the same place all the time.”

How has life changed: “My life has really changed in my neighborhood because of all of the people I know so well now. ... It’s laid down some kind of blanket of security right here in my neighborhood, I feel like I have real security of good friends,” Zendt said. “It’s even nicer now to live where I live.”

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: