For some people, exercise is a private joy. They can't wait to get up early and run on empty streets, or crank up the music in their headphones and tune the world out while they lift. This is their time, and they cherish every moment of it.
For others, exercise is one more thing they feel like they should do. They don't really like it, but they're going to try and make it happen. Since misery loves company, it is fairly common practice for people to team up with a partner to try and keep them on track. This subject has even been the subject of studies which confirm what many of us have known for a while; having a “workout buddy” makes us more likely to stick with our exercise plan and get more out of the work we're doing .
With that established, let's take a look at what we can do to be better workout buddies. Making one post about workout partners just didn't feel right, so stay tuned for part 2!
Understand Each Other's Goals
No matter who your partner is, you'll likely have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to fitness. You'll be able to lift more or squat less, jump higher or run more slowly. As such, it is reasonable to expect your goals to be different. Spend some time discussing them, both before you get started and as you continue along. Understanding each other's goals will allow you to provide support and motivation when needed.
While this may seem counter-intuitive, you and your workout partner don't have to be doing the same things when you're together. The “togetherness” aspect of the workout might end as soon as you enter the gym, and pick up again once you leave. You'll still have provided each other with accountability, you can still hang out afterwards, but the point is that you've added a social aspect to your workout.
I mentioned accountability, and this may be the biggest reason people consider using the buddy system. Booking your workout like an appointment will help you fit it in to your schedule, and booking that appointment with another person will make you less likely to cancel.
This ought to go without saying, but I'll say it anyway; if you're using the buddy system to help you show up to your workout, you have to show up yourself! This is a two-way street, and it only works if you're both doing it.
As I've written before, there is more than one way to show up. Make sure that you arrive at the workout ready to rock. Put the phone away, have a plan, and get to work.
You've pumped yourself up, you've made it to the gym, you're about to get started, and you hear “ugh, I don't even know if I wanna do this” or “what's the point, I can't seem to lose this weight.”
Negativity has no place here. We're supposed to be helping each other out, motivating one another, keeping the momentum going, and you're gonna whine about having to do this?
I've caught myself doing this before. I've had people do it to me. It sucks. Take a deep breath, think about the effect your words have on your partner, and say something else. Or nothing, that's good too.
In fairness, there's a big difference between being negative and complaining about your decision to do a fourth set, or complaining that your legs don't work after yesterday's stair run. Good-natured groaning is ok, being a downer is not.
Ryan Casselman is a personal trainer, musician, and the founder of Real Trainers. Stay tuned as he finds out what he's going to write about each week or so!