Research shows that working out with a friend or partner increases the likelihood of getting results. However, it’s important that you get the right one!
Being in the fitness industry for as long as I have, I’ve personally gotten to know hundreds of people looking to lose weight, build muscle, or get in shape. I’ve sat on the sidelines, quietly observing thousands of gym goers. Obviously, most of them are there to exercise. However, there are a few — as odd as it may seem — who trickle in with the intent to socialize.
While the latter seems like an odd thing to do in a fitness facility, it’s not as outrageous as you might think. In fact, coordinating both — exercise and socialize — might yield better results!
Look — people hire personal trainers for several reasons. One is the accountability factor; when you have someone (aside from yourself) to answer to, you’re more likely to hit your goal. The other is for motivation; who doesn’t need moral support?
While I’m not saying that getting a workout partner is the same as getting a personal trainer (it’s a profession for a reason), it’s a viable alternative. Getting someone to workout with you can give you the motivation you need to push yourself a little further than normal. Your gym buddy can be your yardstick or milestone, your companion or competition, your teammate or your coach.
But, like everything else, there are PROS and CONS.
Accountability — results improve substantially when people workout with a partner, for the same reason people hire personal trainers; you’re less likely to skip gym for that day if you know someone’s waiting for you. You’re also more likely to hit the milestone for the week if someone challenges you.
Motivation — this is aligned with accountability. It’s proven that even just a few words of support or encouragement can boost your mindset and yield improved productivity.
Entertainment — it’s just plain fun working out with a friend, as compared to attending gym alone.
Interaction — if you’re a new parent or a stay-at-home kind of guy, you might not get much interaction during the day. Having a gym buddy gives you someone to talk to while you’re working out. Studies show that new mothers who had fitness partners clocked in more hours of exercise and better results than new mothers that worked out alone.
Less Intimidation — why do some people hate going to the gym so much, even when they’re adamant about losing weight? Admit it; large facilities filled with complicated-looking machines and people handling them like professional athletes? You’d be intimidated too. Joining a gym with a friend significantly dampens the feeling of being overwhelmed or out of your depth.
Non-Contractual — Nothing sucks more than turning up to a gym session one day and finding out that your gym buddy cancelled his/her membership or just flat-out stopped turning up. People can be pretty flaky when it comes to major life choices like getting fit. The fact that they didn’t sign any sort of agreement with you makes it easy for them to just up and leave whenever they feel like.
Randomization — You could end up with a partner who constantly whines, constantly misses sessions, or constantly compares the two of you — in a negative, non-productive way. First impressions matter a lot, but it’s sort of difficult to guess how a person will turn out once they’re comfortable enough to show their colors around you.
FINDING THE RIGHT BODY BUDDY
FIND SOMEONE WITH SIMILAR FITNESS GOALS.
First off, you don’t want to partner with someone who wants to lose weight while you’re trying to pack on the muscle. While he’s hitting the treadmill, you’d be on the other side of the gym lifting weight — which completely defeats the purpose of finding a workout partner.
FIND SOMEONE WITH SIMILAR FITNESS LEVELS.
This is important. Beginners will usually need to go slower, whereas seasoned gym veterans are more likely to push boundaries and test their limits. It’s quite difficult if your gym buddy is still testing the waters — so to speak — while you’re ready to push your training up a notch. Find someone who’s been working out as long as you have or has a similar athletic/fitness background.
FIND SOMEONE WITH SIMILAR DRIVE.
Most likely a given, but worth mentioning. If you’re dedicated to keeping fit but you want to balance it with your other life commitments — work, friends, family — it would be better to partner up with someone who has a similar mindset. If you pair up with a fitness freak who plans to hit the gym 2-3 hours a day, 6 days a week, you’ll definitely encounter problems.
As a professional fitness model, Clark has appeared easily on the cover of over 130 fitness publications and is considered one of the most successful models in the industry.
As a personal trainer, Clark has helped thousands of people transform their bodies and their lives, and is an ISSA Master Trainer.
He is also the author of the how-to guide, You Too Can Be A Fitness Model, Spiritually Fit, A Fitness Program You Can Have Faith In and his most recent best selling book called Where Your Mind Goes, You Go.