Pros and Cons of Having a Gym Buddy
Everyone’s approach to fitness is different. Some people like to work out first thing in the morning, others late at night. Some thrive off a few long sessions a week, while some like to do shorter workouts more frequently. And one of the big things people differ on is working out alone versus working out with others.
Having someone else by your side can be a big motivator, which is why group classes at the gym are so popular. But if classes aren’t your thing, you might find having just one other person to work out with a big help.
Read on to discover the pros and cons of having a gym partner, and how to make sure you’re a good buddy if you choose to go down that route.
Reasons for Working Out With a Friend
Accountability – It’s a scene we’ve all experienced: you’re planning to get an evening workout in but then you get home late from work, it’s cold outside and there’s a comfy sofa calling your name. If you’re working out alone, it’s all too easy to change your plans and skip the gym. However, if you’re planning to meet a friend at the gym then you’re much less likely to cancel.
Knowing that you’re letting someone else down is often much worse than just cancelling yourself, and so you’ll find yourself keeping to your workout schedule much better if you have a buddy.
Motivation – During those gruelling moments of a workout, it can be a huge help to have someone else there to keep you going. Whether it’s finishing an uphill sprint or squeezing in a few more sets, some words of encouragement can really go a long way. Being able to do the same for your workout partner also helps you to share in their successes, and reaching your goals together can give you both a great boost.
Confidence – Have you ever avoided a new piece of equipment because you’re not sure how it works? Or worry that people are watching you when you go for a run? If so then having a friend with you can help you get over these nerves and build up your confidence.
It’s completely normal to find new places and activities a bit scary, but doing it for the first time with someone else makes you less anxious that it’s all eyes on you. It’s especially useful if you can pick a gym buddy who already knows their way around and can show you the ropes.
Spotting and Partner Exercises – There are also a few practical reasons for going to the gym with a partner. If you’re weight training then having someone else to spot you can help you reach new goals and personal bests. If you’re doing circuits, HIIT or cardio, you can keep the workout fun and fresh with partner exercises. From passing a medicine ball to wheelbarrow push-ups, there are plenty of mutually-beneficial moves you can do to mix it up.
Time Management – Keeping on top of all of your commitments is hard. When you have work, family responsibilities, a social life and fitness to juggle, it’s normal for something to get dropped. Many people therefore find that catching up with a friend while working out is a great way to kill two birds with one stone, and makes the most of precious free time. If socialising usually involves eating and drinking, moving your friendship dates to the gym can also be a great way to stay on track.
Fun – Most importantly, a workout buddy should make going to the gym more fun. Whether it’s the sense of community you get from a class or the laughs from catching up with a friend, the additional social interaction can give your mood a boost. Teamed with the endorphins you get from exercising, you can end up really looking forward to your workouts, rather than just enduring them.
Workout Buddy Pitfalls to Avoid
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why a gym buddy is a good idea. However, there are also some potential problems to consider before you commit yourself to regular sessions with a friend.
Distraction – Having someone to chat to between sets can be both good and bad. If your gym buddy is especially talkative, it could actually end up distracting you from getting your best work done. Your workouts should usually involve some tough moments where you struggle to hold a conversation, whether that’s from lifting heavy or doing an intense bit of cardio. Having someone there who wants your full attention could then lead to you not putting your all in.
Long Sessions – A practical thing to consider is whether you actually have the time to workout with a buddy. While you can sometimes get away with exercising at the same time, a lot of your session may involve you taking it in turns on equipment or to spot each other. Their workout is just as important as yours, and so part of being a good gym buddy is also helping then in all the ways they help you. In theory, this could double the time that you spend in the gym, which can make the sessions more difficult to fit into a busy week.
Different Goals – It’s unlikely that you’ll have exactly the same fitness goals as your workout partner, but if they differ enormously then you could have a problem. For example, if you’re focused on building muscle but they want to burn fat, you could end up in the weights room while they’re just interested in the treadmill. This either means changing your regimes to suit each other, or just spending time in different areas of the gym, which eliminates the point of going together.
The partnership could also be a problem if you’re at very different levels of ability. Having someone more experienced than you can be a great motivator and they can show you the ropes; but working out with someone who barely breaks a sweat doing your exercises could end up being disheartening. Similarly, you need to be careful to go at your own pace and not push yourself too far, too soon.
Tips for Being a Good Gym Buddy
As you can see, there are pros and cons of having a gym buddy. The important thing to remember is that variety is key – so you may find that one or two sessions a week with a friend and one or two solo is actually what works best for you.
If you decide to partner up, there are a few key things to remember in order to be a good gym buddy. These are:
Be Consistent – Once you’ve agreed on a time to work out, avoid canceling or being late unless absolutely necessary.
Watch Their Progress – We all know how demotivating it can be when you’re slogging out in the gym and not seeing results. However, these changes are normally easier to see in others than in yourself. Remind your buddy of the progress they’re making in their time, weight or even form. Help them to see the changes that you’ve witnessed over your sessions
Stay Positive – You might be having a bad day, but try not to bring that to the workout session and bring your partner’s mood down too.
Keep the Focus – Chatting can be a great way to make the time go quicker, but try to avoid any conversations that are too heavy or distracting. If you haven’t seen your friend for a while, maybe meet for a coffee beforehand to get any big conversations out of the way before the workout.
Don’t Compare – You and your buddy are likely at different stages of your journeys, so try not to focus too much on the detail of who managed to lift heavier or run faster. A little healthy competition can be a great motivator, but remember that you should ultimately only be competing with yourself.
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