Strength in Numbers: The Importance of Fitness Buddies
“In my 10 years of experience evaluating what creates long-term health-and-fitness success, the single most important factor is having a support system,” says Wayne Andersen, MD, cofounder and medical director of Take Shape for Life, a nationwide health and lifestyle coaching program based in Owings Mills, Md.
Exercise partners provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation and, in some cases, healthy competition. “They can play the role of teammate, co-coach and cheerleader — all while working out,” says Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, MPH, clinical director of Westchester Group Works in Harrison, N.Y.
“If you choose someone who does not share a similar commitment to fitness, that can be a distraction or even a deterrent,” Andersen says. “And if your partner is at a radically different level of health, fitness or ability, you could be held back, pushed too hard or even injured.”
The most successful fitness partnerships fall into one of three categories: the pal-based buddy system, the small group and the coupled pair. Take a look at them all, then consider which collaborative arrangement (or arrangements) might work best for you.
The Buddy System
A dynamic duo, typically friends or colleagues, who train together one-on-one or have developed a regular routine of connecting for fitness activities.
The Group Effort
A small group of people whose membership may vary by the day, but who generally work out at the same preappointed time and place — as a group, with a trainer, or simply in the same vicinity as one another.
The Couple Collaborative
A romantic twosome who pursue their fitness activities together. They may or may not do the same workout, but they block off time and space for being active as a couple.