How often have we heard or may be even said ourselves “I’d go to the gym if I had someone to go with”. Finding the perfect gym buddy can be just as hard as finding Mr Right! But how important is it to have a gym buddy. I have both trained solo and with regular gym buddies. So here is my list of pro’s and con’s.
- Motivation. Having a gym buddy can give you the motivation you need to kick start your fitness. Finding a fitness friend can give you that added push to get your but into that aerobics class when you are just not feeling it.
- Accountability. Your gym buddy can make you accountable. It’s harder to blow off the gym if you know your friend is there waiting for you! You won’t just be making excuses to yourself, your gym buddy will also be making you accountable for your choices.
- Healthy competition. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Pushing each other that little bit harder each time can help you to fulfil your own potential.
- Form. Your gym buddy can also be there to check your form. When I say form I mean the way in which you perform an exercise. This can include posture, the speed and force in which you execute the exercise, spine alignment and footing. Poor form can mean not isolating the correct muscles you want to exercise during the movement and importantly can result in injury.
- Spotting. There is nothing fun about a dumbbell to the face or face planting the mirror falling forward when squatting. Luckily having a gym buddy there can minimise the risk of you hurting yourself or getting in to a sticky situation when you are completing difficult movements or using heavy weights.
- Encouragement. That’s an easier one. Having your own personal cheerleader when you are working hard can push, motivate and help you keep a positive mental attitude when your energy and drive is beginning to falter.
- Support. Gym buddies can be a great source of support in and outside of the gym. If you are having a hard time with progress, form and motivation, a gym buddy can be there to keep you going and someone to relate too and confide in.
- Fresh ideas. For me one of the best part of having a gym buddy is having the opportunity to share new ideas with someone. From new routines, exercises and recipes to protein powders, bloggers, fitness inspiration and places to get new gym wear. Keeping it fresh can keep it fun!
But having a gym buddy can also have its downfalls.
- Dependency. It can become easy to grow dependant on your gym buddy. You may rely on them and not yourself for motivation. This can then potentially cause setbacks if for some reason your gym buddy can’t come to the gym. It is important to keep focused on why you want this and ensure you keep that motivation with or without your gym buddy.
- Distraction. It can be very easy to become distracted by a gym buddy when working out. Conversation can flow and your focus can wane. Talks of the nightmare incident at work and plans for the weekend can take precedence and sometimes steer you off track.
- Unhealthy comparisons. Sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of negatively comparing yourself to your gym buddy. Your gym buddy may be seeing quicker progress or may be lifting heavier than you. It can be hard to remember that everyone is different. Your gym buddy may have different nutrition, a more physically demanding job, faster metabolism, completely different body composition and structure. Competition can be helpful in training but remember this journey is about you and you only.
- Different motivations and goals. Like I said previously, finding the perfect gym buddy is like finding Mr Right or Mrs Right! If you want completely different things it just isn’t going to work. For example if you are training to see muscle tone or increase strength and your gym buddy is training solely for marathon. Your training plan will be quite different and this can make it difficult to train together.
- Commitment. For me this is a clincher. Do you and your gym buddy have the same levels of commitment? If you are ready to dedicate yourself and work as hard as you can, training with someone who is joining the gym for a bit of fun and for a light hobby can have a negative impact on potentially both your motivation and progress. On the flip side, if you are going to the gym for a little you time and some fun, a hard core gym buddy may be too full on and put you off training all together!
If you want to find a gym buddy, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. If you find someone who shares the same interests, make it known. Pretty much all of the fitness fanatics I know love to share tips and ideas with other people and are always happy to help!
I personally like the best of both worlds. I try to switch it up. I train with my mother, with a PT, with my partner and by myself. I learn and take something away with me from all of these sessions. Inspiration, new techniques, motivation and confidence.
In the beginning I was reluctant to train by myself. I was self-conscious and wasn’t sure about what I was doing. My gym buddies helped me grow in confidence but I soon learned that I couldn’t always rely on only training when my gym buddies where available! I decided to try going by solo now and again. Going by myself made my confidence grow tenfold. I no longer cared if anyone was watching or if the girl next to me had a flatter tummy or if someone else in the gym was better than me because it didn’t matter. They may be stronger than me, more muscular or toned but no one knows the battles it takes for you to be there in the gym..apart from you.
That takes real strength.