You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em . . . We're talking about your workout buddy! In many cases, workout partners make exercising all the more fun, while you both push each other to work harder and get into the competitive spirit. But sometimes a buddy can be downright distracting, wanting to talk more than tone. There are several benefits to having a gym buddy like spotting and motivation: after all, there are no excuses when someone else is counting on you. But if you turn to the gym for a bit of "me time" or you can't seem to find the right match, having a partner can seem daunting. So tell us, do you like to fly solo at the gym or get down to business with a buddy?
Losing weight can be such a long journey that it's tempting to give up before reaching your goal. If you have a close friend you can lean on, it can be easier to stay on the healthy path. It should be someone you're comfortable with, someone you can count on to be there when you need them most, and someone you can share your achievements with. Here are some specific ways you can use your buddy on your weight-loss quest.
- Call when cravings are at their worst: When you’re having an insatiable urge to hop in your car and head to the nearest bakery, speed dial your friend so they can talk you into eating fruit instead.
- Swap for inspiration: Boredom can drive you to hop off the healthy wagon, so spice things up by swapping healthy recipes, strength training tips, fitness DVDs, workout ideas, health magazines, and running playlists courtesy of your fellow fit-minded pal.
- Set up weekly exercise dates: Working out goes by much faster when you're chitchatting the whole time, and when you have set assigned workouts in your schedule, you'll see quicker results on the scale. You're also less likely to skip a workout if you know your friend is meeting you at the track at 7 a.m.
- Create fit goals together: Whether you both want to lose five pounds this month or are training for a 5K race, having someone to share your goals with will help you both achieve them. And once you do, you can go out and celebrate as a pair.
- Email your food journal every night: It keeps you both accountable when another pair of eyes is reading the list of food eaten that day.
When it comes to healthy weight-loss and fitness goals, teaming up with a partner on a similar path is a huge help. You can't expect to lose weight if your boyfriend, roommate, or closest friend constantly suggests indulging in unhealthy foods or encourages you to head to happy hour instead of hitting the gym. Having a partner in crime when it comes to healthy living can make the whole process far less painful — maybe even enjoyable! Here are a few reason to buddy up.
Stay accountable: Bailing on a workout or putting fitness on hold are easy traps to fall into, unless you're not the only one these actions affect. When you're working with someone on a similarly fit track, you'll be less likely to cancel healthy plans like cooking at home or hitting up a new workout class.
Build healthy competition: While pushing each other too hard could strain your relationship, there's nothing wrong with a little competition to keep things moving forward. Whether it's hitting a new milestone in a tough workout class or being able to run an extra mile, challenge your fitness partner to reach new heights — and be sure to celebrate his or her success when it's due.
Connect with someone close: Fitness and weight-loss journeys don't just affect your physical well being; they can also be a mental challenge. Having a close friend or loved one who knows what you're going through — and is willing to talk about it — can be a huge help when you need someone to confide in. Listening to him or her can also bolster your commitment to health.
There are plenty of benefits to exercising with a buddy, but sometimes it's better to sweat it out alone. Here are some reasons why you'll want to lace up your sneaks and hit the trail or treadmill alone.
- A better workout: Running alone means you get to make all the decisions about when, where, how fast, and how long to run. This is great if you're training for a race and need to do speed work or cover a certain distance within a specific time frame.
- Tunes: Listening to music is one of the most effective ways to put a little pep in your step, beat boredom, and keep you going longer, but you can't exactly slip on headphones while running with a buddy — that'd be pretty rude.
- Me time: Many people use exercise as a way to reduce stress, to think, or to meditate. It's much harder to do this when your buddy is blabbing in your ear.
- No missed workouts: It's great to be able to rely on only yourself for workout motivation, because if you always run with someone else and they call to bail on you, you're more likely to skip as well. You also don't have to worry about your running buddy calling you up to persuade you to hit happy hour instead of your postwork run.
- Less risk for injury: When you're running with a friend, it's tough not to be a little competitive. Without even knowing it, you might run a little faster or longer than you would on your own, and pushing yourself too much increases your risk of getting hurt.
There are plenty of ways working out with a buddy or in a group setting can offer a better workout than sweating it out solo. Fellow exercisers can inspire you to hit the gym when you really want to hit the couch, and working out with others can push you to go longer than you would on your own. Beware though — here are six ways working out with other people can put you at risk for an exercise-related injury.
You worked hard all week long, and all you want to do on Saturday is chill and do nothing. But if you lace up your sneakers and burn some calories, you know you'll probably feel good. If you have a tough time exercising on the weekend, here are some ways to get psyched about it, and do all the prep work the night before.
- Choose your gear: The night before, choose your outfit and lay it right next to your bed, including any gear you need (charged iPods included). Seeing it first thing in the morning will inspire you to slip it on — getting dressed is half the battle.
- Cue up that DVD: Before you go to bed, leave dumbbells, an unrolled yoga mat, or an exercise ball out. Or, pop in your favorite fitness DVD so it's all set to go. It'll be hard to walk out the next day with all those visual reminders.
- Let music inspire you: Hop on iTunes and make a new cardio playlist that you can use during the weekend. When you get out of bed, you'll be so psyched to listen to it, you'll rush to get your sports bra on.
- Make a date: Earlier in the week, call up a friend and make plans to hike, meet at the gym, or take a long bike ride together. When you make an agreement to meet at a specific time and place, it's tough to bail.
- Pick a fun fitness class: Check out the class schedule at your gym or nearby studio and find a class to take. This way you can mark your weekend schedule before errands or social events prevent it from happening.
Most days I fit my workout in whenever I can, so I tend to sweat it out alone. But I love the days when I can meet up with my running buddy and we hit the trail together — I run a lot longer when chatting it up with a friend. There are definitely some dos and dont's when it comes to running with another friend, so keep these in mind the next time you head out with a partner.
- DO call if you're going to be late: It's hard enough to find an hour in your busy schedules that you're both free, so when you do, make every effort to show up on time. If you're running late, be sure to text or call to let her know — you don't want to keep her waiting, or worse, worrying that something is wrong.
- DON'T bring your headphones: Unless you both prefer listening to your personal tunes and not conversing, save the headphones for when you're running solo. Or if you both want to listen to the same running playlist, put your iPhone on speaker so you can enjoy the music but still hear each other.
Keep reading for more dos and dont's when it comes to running with a fitness buddy.
Over the weekend, I took a class led by Cara Castronuova, the champion boxer and former Biggest Loser trainer (the workout was part of a weekend event courtesy of Puma). While she led the class, she offered us all a bit of advice: sometimes, it's good to compete with your workout buddy.
Cara knows what it's like to be competitive — after all, her job is to throw punches — but trying to one-up your workout buddy may sound counterintuitive to those of us who don't spend hours staring down an opponent in the ring. In reality, though, injecting a little bit of friendly competition into your normal workout routine can help raise the caliber of both your and your buddy's routines. Here's how to add a little competition to your workout buddy dynamic.
Sign up for a race together: Between committing to a months-long plan and showing up for practice, training for a race can be a bonding time for you and your workout buddy. Add another dimension to your training plan by racing with your buddy every few weeks. You'll be able to track your personal progress and may be able to enjoy a few bragging rights as well.
Whoever loses buys: Sometimes, that workout needs a little bit of umph. That's when you turn it into a competition. Challenge your buddy to see who can do the most box jumps at the gym or see who can go the hardest on the elliptical, and after all's done, whoever loses gets to treat her buddy to a cup of coffee or a healthy meal.
Read on for more ways to compete with your workout buddy!
Exercising with a buddy definitely has its perks, but when it comes to most of my workouts, I prefer to exercise alone. Here are some reasons it's sometimes better to sweat it out solo.
- You can work out whenever you want and when it best fits your schedule. Plus you never have to deal with someone being late.
- You can skip the chitchat and focus on your breath and inner thoughts. It's a great time to make mental to-do lists, brainstorm for work, or daydream about weekend plans. Going solo means it's really "me" time.
- The type and intensity of the workout is up to you, whether you feel like going for a run in your neighborhood, hitting a Zumba class, or following a gentle yoga video.
- You can stuff your ears with headphones and rock out to that new cardio mix you made.
- It's OK to wear the same outfit you wore yesterday, even if you didn't wash it. There's no one to make a comment or complain about a little stink.
Keep reading for more reasons it's better to exercise alone.
My husband loves his bike and he loves his skis, but he's never been much of a slip-on-your-sneaks-and-go-for-a-run kind of guy. That is until now.
- Wooed him with gear: To replace his cotton tube socks, sweatpants, and high school t-shirts, I got him some wicking socks, real running pants, and merino wool shirts. He was amazed that after a run there were no blisters or chafing from his loose pants, and he stayed relatively dry thanks to the wicking shirt.
- Added a little friendly competition: It's human nature to be a little competitive, and my hubby is no exception. For a couple bucks, I downloaded the Nike+ GPS app to his iPhone. He loves that it keeps track of his time, distance, pace, and calories burned, and the GPS charts his route. The latest version of the app has the Nike+ Tag feature, which allows you to compete with friends. The object of the game is not to be "It," and in our case, whoever runs the shortest distance becomes "It." The competition has actually motivated both of us to run.
Keep reading for more ways to convince the guy in your life to love running.