Maybe you’re the person who hops out of bed in the morning directly into your leggings, ready to hit the elliptical. Or maybe you’re like the rest of us, and need a little extra motivation when the alarm clock’s blaring and all you want to do is sink back into the snuggly abyss of the snooze button. Solution? A fitness friend. A workout partner can hold you accountable, help you stick to your health goals, and turn working out from burden to enjoyable part of your regular routine. It’s been said that just the physical presence of someone else positively affects your ability to do an activity (not to mention helps the time fly by that much faster).
If you have a friend who is working towards a fitness goal, one great way to give the gift of your time is to offer your services as a workout buddy. Here a few things to keep in mind to support and encourage your loved one—and stay on track yourself while you’re at it.
Set realistic goals
The most important thing when working out with a friend is remembering to keep things realistic. Consider each other’s schedules, health goals, and commitment to your fitness plan. Don’t overcommit or set unattainable objectives you won’t be able to keep—it’ll just make it all that much easier to quit. Make a plan that’s simple and easy to stick to to start, and up the ante as you both start to feel stronger and more confident in keeping up with the regime. Make sure you’re checking in with each other and maintaining an open, judgement-free dialogue.
Choose a workout you both enjoy
You and your loved one may have different fitness levels, interests, or schedules—that’s totally normal. Sit down together and ask questions about what both of you enjoy fitness-wise: gyms you love, whether you prefer working out outdoors or indoors, classes you’ve never tried before, activities you’d like to test out, and current commitments like running clubs or weekly classes. From there, choose a routine or program that you can both adhere to and get the most out of.
Some ideas for friends looking to get fit together are partner yoga classes, kickboxing, bootcamp classes, and scheduling regular upkeep sessions at a gym that’s accessible to both of you. Consider free options as well, like cycling, running, or video-based workouts you can use to fill gaps when you’re apart. Getting bored of your regular routine? Opt for a niche class like a Beyoncé choreography class or Surfset surfboard workout—something you maybe wouldn’t have the confidence to try alone.
Treat it as time spent together
You’re working out together because you care about each other! So go the extra mile. Travel to your workouts together, or carve out time to grab a coffee, juice, or weekend brunch afterwards. This gives you a little bit of extra quality time and the space to debrief or chat about things you want to improve (and will help motivate both of you to get the most out of each workout, too).
Make it fun
Because otherwise, what’s the point? Make room for congratulations when you see each other complete a tough class, wear outfits that make you feel your strongest, and actively encourage and push each other to do better. You’re less likely to get bored when you have a workout buddy, and little wins feel better when you have someone to celebrate with. Just remember to keep the dialogue positive, even towards yourself—pessimistic self-talk or body negativity doesn’t do anyone good.
Consider going on a fitness-based vacation together
Like a yoga retreat or wellness resort. This will give you the opportunity for a getaway while keeping your health goals in mind.
Have a rewards system
You’re working hard, you should reward yourself. Think about what makes your loved one happy and make a plan to work towards that, whether it be a really nice glass of wine, healthy home-cooked meal, new workout gear, or a short-distance getaway with a gorgeous hiking trail they’ve wanted to try. Make sure you’re celebrating the little accomplishments as well as the big ones—sometimes just making it to a workout deserves praise. Implement physical rewards, but make sure you’re actively offering validation as well.
Even better, treat the workout as a reward in itself. If it’s a beautiful day, consider choosing a scenic running route outside.
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