EVERYBODY WANTS A FRIEND WITH BENEFITS
Obviously this blog post is about workout buddies.
When you have someone to workout with on a regular basis it is both intuitive and an empirical fact that your chances of reaching your goals will improve dramatically. “Research shows that 80 percent of people believe they’re more likely to fit in workouts and stick to their routines if they partner up. Even better, a study from the University of Pittsburgh reports that women who exercised with a pal lost a third more weight than those who hit the gym solo.”
There you go. Two sentences that sum it up beautifully. Eighty percent believe it to be so and a university study proves it to be so. This is something we believe really strongly in at SPHERE. The partner and group dynamic are crucial to what we are trying to do here for a health and wellness community that is supportive, motivational and fulfilling.
Let’s break down the idea of a work out buddy further. It is, perhaps most of all, a motivational situation. Knowing that a friend, or friends, are waiting for you at the gym is probably the best defense against that dark part of your mind that tries to convince you that you just cannot make it today because there’s an episode of Two and a Half Men that you have only seen three times and one more time may be what you need to see it on a deeper comedic level.
Having someone do it with will encourage you to sign up for, and attend, a group exercise class in something you have never done before. Especially something outside your comfort zone, something that you are not going to be good at the first couple of times you try it.
Yoga class can be very intimidating when that bendy girl three mats over casually puts her feet behind her head and then pushes up into a handstand. But the intimidation is gone when you and your friend get to spend a moment sharing looks between your distant feet and each other. Well OK, not all the intimidation is gone but at least you won’t feel like rolling up your mat right then and going home and setting a new personal record in the McDonald’s Drive Thru on the way.
It is also motivational if you are like me and have a competitive nature. A little bit of competition can push you to try a little harder, eat a little better or reach a little higher. As long as you are not causing yourself to go into cardiac arrest just to overtake some distant runner right at the end of your workout just because they are there. Cause I have never done that. Hardly.
A work out buddy or group is a supportive element. Positive reinforcement for successes, goal-setting and help through those frustrating plateaus when the results have stopped coming are all roles a partner can play. The last one is especially helpful. There is a high rate of dropouts during the first few months of a fitness plan. The majority of these are by people working on their own who have passed through the first initial phase with its immediate benefits. Plateaus are tough and the encouragement of a friend or group is a key factor in getting through them.
It is also empowering to feel that a friend is looking to you to help them accomplish their goals. Plus staying positive for someone else tends to lead to you feeling more positive about your own goals and progress. Good old “Power of Positive Thinking” stuff.
Finally there is a fulfilling component to working out with a friend or group. Everyone knows that there is no better workout and no better post-workout glow than the one that comes from a workout that almost didn’t happen. The friend that got you there is a cause of that. It is a social situation when you workout with a friend or a group of friends. From sharing the success and struggles of your attempt at a healthy lifestyle to the everyday discussion of current events, work and family. Perhaps you will get to know that bendy girl from the yoga class and learn that it was just a couple of years ago when she couldn’t reach her toes.
What to look for in a workout buddy is a matter of conjecture. There is no correct answer as long as it is someone or a group with reasonably similar goals and of reasonably similar abilities. Do not be too tough on yourself in regards to your abilities as well. You are not that far from putting your feet behind your head. If you know someone then start working together. Or join a group exercise class like ours at SPHERE and find others
There are many places on the web where you can find more information and support for the idea of a workout buddy. Here are just two of them: