A Workout Partner Might Be the Motivation You Need to Get in Shape

Are you having a tough time getting motivated to workout? Personal trainer Kathleen Trotter recommends exercising with a buddy to increase accountability, relieve boredom and try some nifty new exercises.

Q: Why do you recommend working out with a partner?

A: There are numerous benefits to having a workout buddy. The main one is that working out with a partner can help give you that extra motivation to get yourself to the gym. The “buddy system” can help make you more accountable. If you know your workout partner is expecting you, then you will be less likely to come up with reasons to avoid your workout. Also, sometimes working out alone can become boring and/or lonely. Working out with a buddy can help solve this problem, by making the workouts more social and fun. Last but not least, working out with a partner can be good for your budget. If you want to work out with a personal trainer, but can’t afford it, trying splitting the cost of the session with your workout buddy. You will still get the benefits of having a trainer, but at a reduced price. So next time you don’t want to work out, instead of vegging on the couch, grab a workout buddy and get moving.

Q: How is the experience of working out with a partner different from working out alone?

A: Everyone’s experiences training with a workout partner will be different depending on who they choose as their buddy, and the type of exerciser they are. As stated above, if you get bored working out alone, a “buddy” can make the workout more fun. On the other hand, if you like the meditative aspect of a solitary workout, you might hate the experience of a workout buddy.

I would suggest that an excellent alternative would be an “accountability buddy.” If you like being alone when you work out (and having time to reflect and be thoughtful), you probably would not appreciate having to be social during a workout. So if you are the type of person who likes to be silent when working out, but wants the accountability of a workout buddy, find someone to be your “accountability buddy.” Meet them at the gym, but then do separate workouts. Or email them your workout progress, but actually complete your workout solo. This way you get the accountability/motivation of a workout partner but still can have your alone time.

Q: Are there any particular qualities you should look for in a partner?

A: Make sure your workout partner is reliable and as serious about making this relationship work as you are. It does not matter if the person is a friend or stranger as long as you trust them to stick to their part of the deal. Set up some ground rules and make sure you and your workout partner are on the same page. Figure out how many times a week you are going to train, and what your exact schedule will be. You need someone with a similar level of commitment and seriousness or you will get frustrated. If you are sharing a trainer make sure you set specific rules. For example, an excellent rule would be that if one person does not show up for the session they still have to pay their half of the fee.

Q: Should you both have the same fitness level, or does that matter?

A: If you plan to perform the same workouts together, make sure you are both roughly in same physical shape and have similar goals. For example, if you have never run before don’t go out and run 30km with your friend running a marathon. Working out with someone slightly more fit then you can be motivational, but if there is too much of a difference it can be discouraging and dangerous. If you know the perfect workout buddy but they have completely different goals then you, or are at a different fitness level, make them an accountability buddy instead. Plan to meet at the gym but agree to do different activities. This way you can motivate each other to show up and work out, but you don’t have to feel pressure to do the same workout.

Q: Can you offer a couple of exercises that workout buddies can try together?

1. Partner push-ups/plank
Have partner A go into a plank position from their knees or toes. Belly drawn into the spine. Have partner B put one hand on partner A’s hip and the other hand on their shoulder. Partner B then does 10-15 push-ups either from their knees or toes. Perform 5-15 reps and then switch partner positions.

2. Planks and clap
Partner A and B gets into a plank position from either their knees or toes. Partners are facing each other. Partner A lifts her or his right hand as partner B lifts his or her left hand. The two partners clap. Make sure hips stay perfectly still. Alternate hands for 10-20 claps.

3. Partner lunge and medicine ball throw
Partners are standing parallel to each other, shoulder to shoulder, approximately 6 feet away from each other. Partner A holds the medicine ball. Both partners lunge. As both partners come up from the lunge, partner A throws the ball to partner B. Partner B catches the ball and repeats the lunge and throw sequence. Repeat 20 times and then have the partners switch positions so they are working their opposite leg.