There are many advantages to working out with someone else – be that a friend, partner or family member – including accountability and boosting the fun factor. But if you’ve tried this before, you may have already discovered that sometimes it can be tricky if your thoughts on fitness don’t quite align or you get a tad too competitive. Here, a fitness expert and three sets of workout buddies share their advice for finding the ultimate ‘sweat soulmate’.
National Fitness Manager Sam Merza from Genesis Health + Fitness says the key to a successful match is making the right choices at the outset.
“A best friend may not necessarily be your best workout buddy. There may be certain people you resonate with for exercise, others for socialising, sports or work life. They do not always cross over so create your own Health and Fitness family.
“If you put some thought into it, you’ll already have a good idea of who in your circles you are likely to partner well with when it comes to fitness. You want to partner with someone who has a similar energy and enthusiasm level as you – as you don’t want to be stuck being the other person’s cheerleader all of the time – that needs to be a role that’s shared,” said Sam.
“A bit of competition is great, but if you have a friend that’s super competitive with you in other areas of life then you need to ask yourself if this level of competition will be something positive or negative for your workouts, depending on your personality and what motivates you.
“Consistency in exercise is key, so do have that friend that always cancels and is late? – probably best to avoid them as a workout match as well.
“Your best bet is to not get too excited initially and overcommit to a year’s worth of training with a potential workout partner. Do a bit of a trial run first and make sure it’s working for both of you. You may also benefit from having more than one fitness friend – your pilates pal, your cycle session companion etc.”
Sam’s top 5 tips for finding the ultimate workout buddy:
- Schedules need to align. If you work weekdays and your friend works nights and weekends, it will make finding a mutually convenient time almost impossible – and when things are hard, you’re less likely to continue. It’s best to align with someone who has similar work/life commitments to you and prioritises their health to the same degree as you
- Similar fitness levels. It can be challenging to train in a pair if there is a big discrepancy in fitness levels, so ideally, choose someone who is at a similar stage to you (or a little ahead) on their fitness journey. If you do need to work around differences in fitness, it is possible – you just need to choose options where each person can work at their own pace without it impacting the other person, like a small group training session.
- Similar preferences. A workout duo won’t last long if one person is addicted to adrenalin sports and the other prefers quiet indoor activities like yoga. If you have a friend with different exercise tastes, they can be great to occasionally help get you out of your comfort zone to try something new, but for regular ongoing exercise, they’re probably not the best fit.
- Energy feeders. In life, there are those people who feed your energy and lift you up, while others tend to take away your energy and drag you down. Align with someone who fills your energy cup and motivates you at 5am on a chilly Monday morning.
- Smile factor. Having a laugh and ensuring workouts are fun will keep you both coming back for more. A sense of humour should be high on your criteria list when choosing a workout mate.
Mother/daughter workout buddies - Avalon and mum, Robyn
“I work out with my mum four to six days per week. We attend some classes together but we also do our own thing, and I think that creates a nice balance and allows us to focus on our different preferences and priorities. I love having mum there to encourage me and to notice my progress. We share training tips and encourage each other to try harder each time. Sharing our fitness is important to us because we share the struggles and triumphs together. Some mornings feel really hard in a mobility or strength session, but mum is right there next to me.” – Avalon
Husband/wife dynamic duo – Angela & Craig
“We’ve been married for 21 years and gym buddies for 10 years and workout four to five times a week together including at the gym and sharing walks and hikes. It strengthens our relationship because it is time that we have dedicated to spend together with a common goal. Plateaus and motivation can be a hurdle which is where we find having another like-minded partner is really helpful to get through those barriers. It’s great to have accountability for attending each session that you book together, sharing each other’s successes and motivating each other when the alarm goes off at 4.45am. We’re very competitive with one another but it’s a very positive thing and has never tested our relationship because we want to see the other person succeed. Our advice to other couples thinking about working out together is be consistent, be supportive of each other and most importantly, be able to have a laugh together.” - Angela
Fitness friends and neighbours – Annet & Nishani
“I feel really lucky to have a friend like Annet. She was already quite into her fitness and she encouraged me to sign-up for a free trial at her gym. After the initial couple of sessions I was in a world of pain and was hesitant to come back but she encouraged me and I pushed through. We now workout 2-3 days a week together and we’re doing a Coaching Zone 6-week Challenge together as well. It’s really helpful for me that Annet knows a little more than I do, as she gives me advice and helps me with my form. It’s important to have a friend who genuinely wants to see you succeed and whose achievements motivate you and vice versa. We’re also of a similar age so our fitness goals are aligned – we’re both there for our health and strength and to be a good role model for our kids.” - Nishani