What a Workout Partner is Worth
“…if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, ” Prov 2:4
This biblical proverb talks about searching for wisdom and understanding like searching for something valuable. Taking action to earnestly seek that which is hidden because finding it, is worth all the effort. In my world, gaining understanding about how to keep my clients engaged in exercise and eating right is what I constantly seek and refine. But for you, in the pursuit of changing to or maintaining your healthy lifestyle, I believe finding a workout partner is definitely worth the search. They are as valuable as his or her weight in gold.
Why is finding a workout partner worth the search? Take a look at what benefits they bring you:
1- Accountability. They will be fired up to get to the gym when you don’t feel like going. Other days you’ll be the one who wants to go. Either day, you probably both show up because you don’t want to let the other one down. You know they are waiting and counting on you and this knowledge helps you overcome the daily and weekly obstacles to consistent exercise.
2- Completion. You’ll be much more likely to complete the workout you set out to do when your partner is finishing theirs. This curbs the urge to just stop when you are thinking about all the other things pressing on you.
3- Intensity. You’ll work harder when you’re with someone else. Especially if you are doing a partner workout. You’ll push yourself faster, try moves you’d shy from, and refuse to stop because you don’t want to be the weak link. You don’t want to let your partner down. And neither does she. As a result, you’ll cover more territory, work harder to get that last round in time, and push through being uncomfortable for the sake of you team.
4- Gains. Each athlete has their strengths and weaknesses, and more than likely your partner’s will be different from yours. If your partner has a stronger back squat than you, chances are if you are squatting with her, you’ll try a heavier weight, or complete the few extra reps you really need, or even complete a strength session that you’d probably not do on your own. In the same way, you help them along with attributes they are seeking to improve. Better pacing, more stamina, and increased speed are all attributes that will improve as a result of working as a team.
5- Companionship. Some days you’ve already taken on the world before it’s time to exercise or fix dinner. You need someone to come along and nudge you (maybe a push?) toward getting your workout in for the day. They give you a strong reason to show up. To make dinner instead of going through the drive-thru. You can talk and encourage each other. Share burdens of the day or week. Get a fresh perspective on a tough situation. And affirm each other that you aren’t going at this alone.
While all of this sounds beneficial, let’s address the trickier question of: How do I find a suitable workout partner?
Here are a few tips for your search:
First, I would say to remember that you are not marrying this person. Lower the bar so you will be open to working out with different people. I joke with my clients that your workout partner can be completely different than you and you don’t even have to LIKE them. If they show up consistently and have a positive attitude- they qualify!
Consider a few things they DON’T have to be. They don’t have to be the same age. They don’t have to be in the same life phase as you. They don’t have to be the same gender, or have the same political view, or personality or socialize in the same circles.
If these things are similar to yours, Great! It is a bonus. You’ll get to know them during all the time you spend together talking about life. And with the common bond of enjoying exercise and being healthy, you’ll be able to bridge the gap of differences over time. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.
Also, I wouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking there is one “soulmate” workout partner out there in the world. In fact, I would have a few people that you can meet up with for a workout. In the long run, people need space to change up their priorities for a season and you need the stability of being able to be consistent. If you have a few partners, there is less pressure on one person to be there every time, all the time. Additionally, each person has their own strengths as we discussed, so you will train more varied and see different improvements when you work with different athletes.
My advice is just to put it out there. Make it known that you’re looking for someone to workout with. You can send a group text, a social media invitation to friends, or if you already belong to a gym, post it on their community board and see what response you get.
At our gym, we run things to encourage small group accountability and variety in training. We program a partner workout every Wednesday to foster community and build relationships. I personally have two or three people I reach out to, to help me stay motivated and get out of my comfort zone. (Even coaches need partner accountability!)
Since the pursuit of health is a lifestyle choice, the better support system we have around us, the smoother the path will be. It is much easier to ride, run, CrossFit, or swim each week if you’ve got people to meet up with. They share their protein bars with you, you show them new exercises. You meet up for lunch sometimes, and make better eating choices overall. It becomes a way of life. And because it goes counter culture to our sedentary, fast food saturated nation, it really is easier to do this in a team.
I encourage you, if you are currently pursuing health like The Lone Ranger, take action and find someone to partner with. It will make a critical difference in your ability to stay on the healthy path. The search is worth the effort, because the value of what you are seeking is high. We really are stronger in numbers.
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