Six reasons you should work out with a buddy

Would you like to increase your chances of fitness success two-fold? Do you want a proven way to avoid or help you through plateaus? How about keeping yourself engaged and dedicated to the gym, all while having fun? If these questions pique your interest than you might benefit from having a gym buddy!

One study done at the University of Indiana surveyed married couples who joined workout facilities together. Those who exercised separately from their significant other had a dropout rate of 43 per cent. The couples that worked out together decreased their dropout rate to just six per cent.

Exercise buddies can range from a good friend, colleague, classmate, sibling, significant other and more. They can provide a powerful mixture of motivation, support, accountability and even some friendly competition.

Here are the six reasons why you should workout with a buddy:

1. Fewer skipped workouts.

Scheduling with a friend keeps you accountable and consistent. Planning a meetup makes you less likely to cancel and more likely to work harder.

2. Try new things.

Working with a partner can motivate you to try a new weight, exercise or intensity level. You might be ready to call it quits, but the sight of your friend cheering you on might give you the courage to perform one more rep.

3. Friendly competition.

Research says finding a partner who is close to the same fitness level as you is extremely motivating. You’re likely to encourage and support each other through the wins and losses of your fitness journey. You’ll work harder in the gym and maybe even get better results.

4. Two-person exercises.

Being able to work with a friend means you can try partner exercises such as back to back wall sits, wheelbarrow style push ups and squats, or sit ups with a medicine ball pass.

5. Safety is key.

Have your partner watch you perform exercises to make sure your form/technique are spot on. You and your buddy can learn how to properly spot resistance training exercises for times when you try out a new load/weight! Additionally, if running/exercising outside is your goal, it’s always best to go with someone else in case anything happens.

6. Keep it FUN.

Don’t let exercise become a chore! Find something that you love, and stick to it! Having a buddy around means sharing some laughs, motivating each other, and the time will go by quicker.

There are, however, a few pieces of criteria that your workout buddy should meet before scheduling your first session together.

Firstly, you need to feel committed and responsible for the workout. In other words, it needs to be someone you don’t want to disappoint. This way you are much less likely to make excuses and skip a workout if you know your workout buddy is expecting you.

Secondly, you need to have corresponding values and goals when it comes to fitness. One person may be seeking to train for a 10-kilometre race, while the other is hoping to improve their hip and knee mobility; two drastically different training goals with opposing training protocols. One partner will spend most of their time using the treadmill and running outside while the other might need to be performing body weight exercises and attending yoga classes. These two people are likely not compatible gym buddies.

Lastly, make sure that your buddy’s starting level is similar to yours. You might be both focusing on losing weight, but a 50lb weight loss goal versus a 10lb weight loss goal is likely going to put the both of you at different starting points in terms of your physical abilities. On the other hand, one person might have years of experience in the weight room, while the other is brand new. The experienced person may enjoy teaching the less-experienced person, or they may want to be left alone to their own devices. Just remember, you don’t want to be held back, pushed too hard or even injured.

Make sure to take some time when considering a suitable gym buddy for you. Are they going to encourage, support and motivate you? Are you going to give the same in return? What are you both hoping to achieve by exercising together?

What sort of exercise do you want to try together? You’re not limited to the weight room or running! Try out yoga classes/ videos, Pilates, walking, tennis, badminton, swimming, hiking, cycling or spin classes, golf — the possibilities are endless!

I’ve seen many people find success with the new found motivation of a gym buddy, I know it can work for you too!

Katherine is a Fitness & Wellness Coordinator at the Student Wellness Centre.