Just Add Friends: Why You Need a Workout Partner

Until you sweat with a buddy, or get your fit on with a workout partner, you won’t know what you are missing! I have worked out alone, with a buddy, and with groups. There is something truly special about working out with a partner for a plethora of reasons! Personally, I think I need a buddy in all areas of life including my workouts. I think it is in some people’s DNA to want to have someone with them while doing tasks or exercising. I say this because I noticed even my Dad has to take my mom with him everywhere he can, even if she doesn’t have a reason to go! So maybe that is where I got my “buddy gene.”

Anyway, if you’re looking to switch up your routine, actually enjoy the time you spend on your workout, or keep yourself accountable, just add friends!

First off, it will make time fly. You’re super busy chasing your dreams, we know, but health and wellness is a key component in running towards a successful life. You won’t even mind scheduling this time for yourself when you know you’re going to have a great time blasting calories with a friend. Time flies when you’re having fun!

Fun leads to bonding. So, this is no longer just about the workout (shout out to the multitaskers who appreciate this). When you add in a partner, you’re also building relationships, which can be difficult, but still necessary, to find time for when you have a demanding career.

Plus, two heads are better than one! Adding a buddy may push you harder to expand your workout or may even come up with ideas you didn’t even think of to solve that nagging fitness problem. I can’t count how many times a partner has helped me work through some of my issues or directed me to resources or solutions I didn’t even know existed! Or, if there’s a new exercise you’ve been wanting to try or a certain workout class you haven’t had the courage to walk into alone, new experiences are so much easier when you have a friend there to share them with.

Oh, and there’s science too! A study by the Society of Behavioral Medicine found that training with a partner on your cardio work is a key barrier to achieving recommended intensity and duration of physical activity is motivation. Due to the Kohler Effect, you find yourself lifting more weight, agreeing to do more reps or sets and staying at the gym longer than you normally would on your own. When you workout with someone you don’t want to feel like the slacker or that you are preventing them from getting a quality workout in, so you naturally step up your game! In the study, this lead to over over double the improvements compared to going at a workout alone. This might not seem like a huge deal for one workout, but doubling your workout every time you exercise over time means major gains in both relationships and muscles cells!

In business and in life, far too often we emphasize “community over competition” and to “only focus on what you are doing”. Competition doesn’t have to be daunting if you’re strong enough to remain on your path of authenticity and when you appreciate the room you have to improve, it can be a huge factor contributing to your success, especially when working out! In new research published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, participants help planks 5% longer when introduced to a reasonable amount of peer pressure. When you’d rather prepare your taxes instead of partaking in that last set of burpees, the last 5 minutes of spin class, or sit in the hot yoga room for another second of your life, a good workout bud will push you to finish strong! Before you know it, you’ll be pushing past your limits in other areas of your life too, not just at the gym!

Another great benefit is only having to meet one person, have you ever tried to organize a group? Someone is always late, delaying everyone getting started. Someone has to cancel, the list goes on and on. When you are meeting on the regular, you and your partner get in a groove and it is easy to schedule, re-schedule or cancel if necessary. Also, with more people that means more opinions, more decisions and more chance of someone derailing the group. As in, “Hey, let’s go grab brunch and forget this workout!” If you are more of a “strength in numbers” kind of gal, try a group fitness community like The Barre Code.

Which brings me to accountability. Your workout buddy is going to motivate you to get to the gym, stay consistent and will call you out if you are slacking (or caught horizontal running). They won’t let you forget to write your workout down in that new snazzy journal either. They will also pick up your spirits for those days when you just aren’t feeing it or had a set back. It is nice to know you aren’t alone on your health and fitness journey.

Even if you don’t have any fit friends nearby, or you want to include friends in your fitness regimen while still having your alone time at the gym, the technology of today’s digital world makes it possible to still reap the benefits of a workout buddy. According to a Michigan State study, women who were told that they had super-fit virtual sweat sisters simultaneously spinning pedaled for nearly twice as long as those who believed they were working out alone. Check out sites like SparkPeople.com or GymChum.com.

So get out there and find that buddy! It could be a friend, family member, co-worker or someone you always see at the gym at the same time as you! It doesn’t matter who it is, just as long as you both agree to support each other and keep each other accountable!

Photo By: Kate Stutz Photography