Considering finding a workout buddy since you hate dragging your feet to the gym by yourself? You’re not alone (pun absolutely intended). You’ve probably heard the term “strength in numbers” before. If you work out with a friend, it could make the workout more enjoyable, make time fly by faster, or help you be more consistent due to accountability. These are all good things that will help you progress in your fitness journey. But what about the friend who isn’t helping you achieve those goals? Someone you thought would be a fun workout partner could be holding you back from achieving your full potential!

Before you go seeking a workout buddy, or fitness partner, here are some things you should factor in before you pop the question:

Do you have exercise schedules that are compatible? Are you a night owl while your friend is an early bird? Do you have a flexible work from home schedule while your friend works a strict 9-5?

Do you both have similar fitness goals? If you are more interested in building cardio stamina because you want to swim to Guam while your friend is more interested in training to rescue a piano from a burning building with one arm, training together may not make sense.

Are you both at around the same fitness level? Does your friend run 12 miles a day and lift small cars for strength training, while you sit at a desk eight hours a day, and maybe walk 30 minutes to work twice a week? You may not be able to find a mutually agreed upon workout that will progress both of you in your fitness journey.

Do you have similar “exercise” personalities? Are you both willing to try new formats? Does one prefer exercising in a group setting (kickboxing, dance fitness) while the other prefers running side by side on a treadmill talking about the weather and traffic (acceptable in the Midwest as appropriate treadmill talk; do not attempt in East or West coasts)?

Do you motivate each other in the same way? Do you both thrive off of friendly “trash-talking” competition or would you both prefer only hearing positive “warm-fuzzy” compliments? Do you both want to “treat yo’self” at the end of a good workout by celebrating with pizza and a six-pack or prefer tackling a clean eating challenge together? If you have a buddy you can call 10 minutes before heading to the gym who is willing to skip the workout to go to happy hour with you for half-off martinis, you might have picked the wrong workout buddy.

Personally, I’ve taken a huge variety of classes either alone or with friends. When I first started working out, going with a friend was comforting to me. I had someone I could talk to in an intimidating environment. There was a healthy fear of doing worse than my friend at whatever we were trying, so that fear pushed me to try harder than I would have if I’d come alone.

Soon, however, I learned that my strength often came from venturing out on my own. For example, I would post on Facebook “I found this awesome African dance class – who wants to check it out with me?” to get friends to go with me. More often than not, I would receive one of these reactions:

  • I would love to but I can’t afford that right now.
  • Oh, let’s do that when it gets warm out because I am hibernating with cookies this winter.
  • “Like” (but nothing to say about it, they just like that I found a cool dance class, I guess)
  • I would be so bad at that class, but have fun!

What I was hoping for was “Yes – let’s do that! Tell me how to sign up. I am ready to be a dancing fool!” but I didn’t get that reaction at all. I would seriously ponder not going, then realize how lame that would be. I had found a class I was enthusiastic about attending. Why should I let my friends’ disinterest stop me from doing something I wanted to do? I ended up learning something new, meeting a bunch of great people, and having a blast!

The above examples aren’t meant to discourage social fitness by any means. Some people thrive with their fitness partners. Two people who are well matched in fitness levels and goals can absolutely motivate each other and make workouts even more fun! Keep in mind, your fitness journey is your own – no one should detract from your end goals. Sharing it with a friend who enhances your journey is just an added bonus.

Tag your workout buddy now!

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