Partnering Up For Fitness
by Laura Draskovich
Exercise has many positive benefits, as we are aware. By taking responsibility for our physical health, we provide our own health insurance. The benefits we receive in return are paid through improvements in cardiovascular health, strength, flexibility, endurance, and bone density, as well as reducing or eliminating the need for medications. But no matter what the motivation, let’s face it, we often put ourselves low on our list of daily tasks. When things come up, they often take priority. We keep bumping our workout time later and later, until we have run out of time! Taking time for YOU requires what I call the 3 Ds: Dedication, Discipline, and Determination.
“Easier said than done,” you say. Two words: Workout Buddy—problem solved. Partnering up for a workout is a great way to go for many reasons. For one, it is a great way to combine your fitness with social time. Together you can motivate each other and hold one another accountable for showing up for your workout. Besides the fun factor, you can increase your success in reaching your goals. Misery loves company, but it does not seem quite so terrible when two of you are suffering.
Studies from the University of Pittsburgh report that women—sorry guys, this study was done for the ladies—who exercise with a partner lost one-third more weight than those who hit the gym solo. Another study from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana State University surveyed couples who joined health clubs together. The study found that couples who worked out separately—different times or days—had a 43 percent dropout rate over the course of a year. Those couples who went to the gym together, regardless of whether or not they shared the same workout, exercise, or goal had only a 6.3 percent dropout rate over the course of a year.
Consider your potential workout partner. They are your support system, your cheerleader, your partner in fitness. When you have an appointment, you are much more likely to show up. Same goes for your workout with a partner. The accountability makes a difference when you know someone is waiting for and counting on you. Individuals to consider as workout buddies can be friends, colleagues, or people from a fitness class you attend. A spouse or partner can be perfect for those who support each other’s goals and may have trouble finding time to be together.
What attributes should you possess in order to be a good workout partner? Being in touch with your partner is key. Send reminders, prearrange rides, give wake-up calls, suggest new workout ideas to keep things fresh, and prevent fitness plateaus. Additionally, remind your partner of their goals, offer encouragement, and push when the going gets tough. Keep tabs on your partner through illness, travel, or other routine-breakers.
Now let’s discuss the qualities both partners bring to the fit team. A positive attitude—check your attitude and bad vibes at the gym door. You will feel so much better meeting your pal and sweating it out. Remember, if you think you are venting, you probably are. Save it for cool-down and stretching if you still feel the urge. Chances are, you will feel much better.
Compatible schedules are very important for obvious reasons. Do your best to schedule life around your workouts. Make the time that you and your partner set aside a priority. Respect one another’s time.
Here are a few ideas to help ensure a lasting and results-oriented partnership and program:
- Equal commitment. It sounds simple, but people differ in their level of commitment. It is no fun being stood-up at the gym.
- Common workout goals. If you are working to lose weight and your partner is working to shave time off their marathon pace, the workouts each of you do will be strikingly different. Common goals make partnered workout times easier.
- Similar fitness levels and abilities. When partners’ fitness levels and abilities vary greatly, the fittest individual almost always feels underchallenged and sometimes resentful for being held back, while the least fit individual almost always feels like they cannot keep up.
- Remember goals. Save the chit chat for warming up, stretching, and post-workout. While the social aspect of having a workout buddy can increase your workout enjoyment, do not undermine the effectiveness of the reason you are there in the first place. Goals!
- Finally, take turns coming up with a routine. By taking turns mapping out your sessions, both partners remain equally engaged in the training relationship.
Partnering up can be a great way to incorporate motivation, accountability, and camaraderie into your fitness program. Working out with a partner increases success by keeping you on track. Plus, you will be more likely to make a permanent lifestyle change. I can assure you, as a fitness professional with 20 years of experience, I see this all the time. Individuals from my fitness classes meet in class, spend time out of class, reinforce, and support one another. Of my personal training clients, partner teams are the most highly committed to their programs. The proof is in—when training together—everyone wins.
Until next time, Keep Living the Fit Life.