You’ve heard trainers and fitness influencers say it over and over again: get a workout buddy. But if you’re like many fitness enthusiasts, you probably haven’t heeded this advice. Whether getting a workout buddy feels unnecessary to you or seems as difficult as a week of leg days, it’s a must-have upgrade that will bring your regimen and fitness to the next level.
The upsides to having a fitness buddy can’t be limited to a single area. It isn’t just about camaraderie; it can also help to bust through your next fitness plateau. Here’s why you need a workout buddy today.
What is a fitness buddy?
A fitness buddy is, simply, a person who you work out with and to whom you hold yourself accountable for meeting your fitness goals.
A little accountability can go a long way. Stanford studies have found that even a bi-monthly telephone conversation on how much you’ve exercised recently and ways to exercise more can boost the amount you exercise by an average of 78%. These results were the same whether participants communicated with a machine or a human. Corresponding with a machine takes the minimum amount of effort, but a pre-recorded voice can’t accompany you to the gym.
An in-person workout buddy only amplifies these benefits by critiquing your form, upping your confidence to try out new workouts and equipment and, with the right fit, getting you to have more fun than you ever would working out alone. Plus, your buddy can make workouts safer by spotting you on difficult exercises while competitively motivating you to perform better.
In those tough, sweaty moments that tempt you to go easier on yourself or just give up, a workout buddy inspires you to stick it out and push on even further. This is especially the case if you choose a workout buddy who is in better shape than you. By triggering the Kohler Effect, your buddy can motivate you to step up your game so you’re not at the back of the pack.
More benefits of having a fitness buddy
Adding a social component to your workout can produce significant results. Your exercise routine is an opportunity to include a friend in an area of your life, guaranteeing you a free therapy session, more face time with loved ones and all the effects a good friend has on supporting—and regulating—our egos. People who regularly socialize with others are shown to live longer, be healthier and suffer from fewer mental illnesses. Talk about a major added bonus.
You might think you know everything about a certain machine or exercise, but two brains are better than one—and that couldn’t be more true than in the gym. A new person can spice up a stale workout regimen with new ideas and tips.
While a workout buddy alone might be enough to inspire you not to bail on that morning yoga class, working out with someone fitter than you can also increase exercise results. In one study, a partner 40% fitter than the participant produced maximum motivation to push harder. Another study found that the presence of a virtual workout buddy increased participants’ exercise levels to 200%, compared with the exercise levels of those working out alone.
Finding a fitness buddy
Friends, family and fitness interested co-workers are all potential exercise partners. However, a workout buddy doesn’t have to be someone you already know. If you’re seeing a personal trainer or coach, feel free to ask them if they know of anyone interested. They most likely have other clients who want to cultivate their fitness support system. If your in-person inner circle shudders at the thought of cardio, branch out to the Internet for a partner.
Some special-interest websites have subsets for people seeking exercise partners—like this one, for example. Other websites are specifically intended for fostering workout partnerships. We like zogsports.com for teams or exercisefriends.com for general fitness buddies. However you go about it, you’ll be a positive addition to your workout buddy’s life while reaping the benefits of their presence.
More apps than ever are helping us connect with other workout enthusiasts. Still, there’s really no replacement for an in-person fitness partner to motivate you. Your future workout buddy could be a coworker you admire and want to know better or a friend just as motivated as you to make progress. Working out is a continuing process, and there’s no need to go through it alone—especially when you could be an amazing teammate to someone else and get more fit in the process.