Workout Buddy Benefits
by Ali Johnston | published Oct. 11th, 2019
You wake up to your alarm with the message “HIT THE GYM” flashing across your phone screen. You sigh, hit the snooze button and go back to bed. We’ve all been there. While we all know we should be going to the gym, actually going is a different story. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to work out, but having someone by your side can make it a lot easier.
There are numerous reasons to work out with someone else, and all of them revolve around the same theme — it makes life easier.
Going to the gym is time consuming and it often doesn’t fit into a schedule as well as we'd like it to. Having a workout buddy can give you the motivation to run that mile or two, even if it still seems like a hassle.
Imris Curry, a fourth year Computational Mathematics major, finds it much easier to work out with somebody else.
“It’s hard to motivate myself, and it’s also hard to prioritize something that feels like me going randomly on my own. It’s easier to schedule something in where other people are counting on me. It’s less likely to get pushed aside if other people are also depending on that,” Curry said.
Cancelling your own half-made plans is easy to do, but when someone else is relying on you, it becomes much more difficult to cancel. The Better Health Channel breaks down exactly how exercising with someone else makes it easier to follow through on a commitment. Something as simple as carpooling can make it so much easier to wake up in the morning for that early workout.
Sarah Mosley, a CrossFit trainer located in Rochester, urges individuals who are new to exercising to have someone holding them accountable.
“I think being brand new to the whole athletic scene, it helps to have [someone to] hold you accountable. I think that goes with anything, if you’re going to do something, I think it always helps to have someone there. Someone depending on you and someone supporting you and encouraging you,” Mosley said.
It's important to be held accountable because a lot of the time, creating a workout schedule is easier said than done. It’s difficult to start, especially if the only immediate result you feel is pain. But the pain that comes from exercising is natural; it’s just your body’s reaction to getting used to the workout.
Even if you know working out will ultimately benefit you, that initial pain can be hard to push through. However, when shared between two or more people, pain can actually become a bonding and motivating factor. Shared pain has a habit of bringing people together, and that can make it easier to keep coming back to the gym.
“It’s kind of like, you all just went through this relatively terrible thing together ... you kind of just bond over how terrible it was and then by the end of the bonding you’re like, ‘Alright, we’ll come back tomorrow,’” Mosley said.
A little friendly competition can also be extremely beneficial in the weight room. Kansas State University conducted a study which demonstrated the benefit of friendly competition. Each participant was told to ride a stationary bike, and each was given a virtual partner that they were thought to be competing with. The goal was for a partnership to beat every other team in how fast they could bike and how long they could bike for. The more that participants heard their partners were riding faster and longer, the more the participants improved.
Having someone else with you while you’re exercising can push you to be the best version of yourself. It makes it easier to keep going and push through when there’s someone cheering you on.
Not only can they push you, but they can make sure you stay safe so you can keep exercising. Whether your buddy is helping you stay safe, motivated or even just standing on two feet, all of it will help you improve in whatever area of fitness you have goals in.
“I definitely feel like having somebody else has held me more accountable and I think because of that, I’ve been more consistent, and that obviously has led to progress,” Curry said.
It’s only natural that you’re going to want to impress, or at the very least keep up with the person you’re working out with. Striving to do so is going to make you more motivated and an overall stronger athlete. A buddy should be able to push you just hard enough so that you try to keep up with them. Striving to be as successful as someone else in an exercise setting will show you the athlete within yourself.
Pick Your Buddy
Now we know that it can be easier to work out with someone else, but how should you choose your exercise buddy? There are a lot of factors that go into choosing who you want to struggle with, so let’s break them down.
A big question that you may ask yourself is: “Should I choose someone at or above my skill level?” The short answer is, there are benefits to both!
“It’s kind of nice to have someone be at the same level as you so you don’t feel alone. But at the same time, if they have the background and the knowledge and they can help you, that could be beneficial too,” Mosley said.
Finding someone who is slightly more experienced than you, but not so experienced that you feel intimidated, can be crucial in an exercise setting. Your buddy should be able to teach you new things about working out, but should also be able to grow with you.
When choosing a buddy, Curry wanted to choose somebody that she trusted to help her through the workouts, and someone that she was close enough to that she wouldn’t feel intimidated or overwhelmed.
“Because I was newer to working out, I wanted to work out with someone with more experience. Not someone who was going to leave me in the dust every minute, but definitely someone who already has it worked into their schedule so that it’s me trying to fit into a schedule that’s already created,” Curry said.
Plan, Sweat, Appreciate
At the end of the day, starting to work out is going to be a difficult thing to do and to maintain. Picking your buddy and making a schedule can make it that much more tolerable.
“I would definitely recommend sitting down with the person and writing out a schedule ... I don’t think it works to wake up and be like, ‘Hey, when are we going today?’” Curry said.
Plan today and start tomorrow — your future self will thank you.