How To Cultivate A Productive Workout Buddy Partnership

Whether you’re a social butterfly or lone wolf at the gym, the benefits of an effective workout buddy relationship are undeniable. Find the right one for you with this comprehensive guide by Burbank Fitness Club. 

If you’ve ever been in a workout buddy relationship, you know that sometimes it feels a little like dating. Are they good for me? Do they meet my needs? Is this relationship actually working?

Well, that’s because, at the end of the day, your fitness partnerships should enhance your workout experience and get you both closer toward your common goals — together.

Whether you have a steady lineup of workout buddies on rotation, or you’re a longtime lone wolf on the gym floor, this guide to platonic fitness partnerships covers the scientifically proven benefits of a workout buddy, plus the best ways to find the person who’s right for you.

So let’s dive in.

How To Find & Cultivate Your Workout Buddy Dream Team 

4 Benefits To Having A Workout Buddy 

While it seems obvious that a workout buddy will increase your time and performance in the gym, it’s more compelling when you see the studies and Harvard-level research that back it up. Check out these proven results — and how they increase over the duration of your relationship:

  1. Finding a new exercise buddy is proven to increase the amount of time you spend working out, according to this study. And when is that ever a bad thing?
  2. If your workout buddy offers encouragement and emotional support, you’ll see the most effective results from your new relationship, according to the same study. Checking in to see how the other person is feeling that day is just as motivating as exercising together.
  3. Research also shows that the longer you work together as a team, increasing your bond and connection, the stronger results you’ll see from your fitness partnership. It’s important to set common goals together, and then achieve them together, to see the biggest impact on your fitness success. A bond like that, especially over time, can create powerful motivation to keep you exercising up to 200% longer than those who workout alone, according to this study.
  4. According to research conducted at Harvard University, our health habits are “contagious.” For example, a person’s risk of becoming obese rises by 2% for every five obese social contacts they have; however, healthy habits are also contagious, making your fitness community an important indicator of your success.

How To Find A Workout Buddy 

No matter how confident you are in your gym skills or social graces, sometimes finding the right gym buddy can be tough. Even if you already have a standard lineup of fitness partners, a new addition to the team never hurts. If you want to up your fitness game this year, research shows finding a new workout buddy does the trick. So here are a few tips for finding someone new to hit the gym with:

  1. Ease in with a group fitness class. 

While a dedicated workout buddy is the Holy Grail of fitness partnerships, there are easier places to start while still seeing some of the same results. Group workouts, for example, lower stress by 26% and improve quality of life overall, according to this study.

And if you’re feeling less stressed and more excited about life, in general, you’re more likely to keep coming back. So if the workout buddy relationship is new and a bit intimidating to you, start by reaping the benefits of group classes. If you go consistently, you might even find your dream fitness partner by accident.

  1. Try a workout buddy “dating” app. 

If you’re more digitally inclined, the location-based app NavaFit is designed to solve this very problem. Like a dating app for workout buddies, NavaFit connects fitness enthusiasts with others in their area to form a “Squad.” Once you’re buds, you can share workouts, challenges and chats, too. Who said a digital buddy wasn’t just as motivating?

  1. Get creative!

If you’re still a little shy, get creative! Start a daily text group with your friends in other areas or states. Join a Facebook accountability group, check out the communities on your FitBit or MyFitnessPal apps, or simply share your fitness watch activity with your friends as a way of checking in and motivating each other. And if you’re still looking for that in-person connection, consider asking a colleague out to a fitness class instead of a high-calorie dinner and drinks. You can connect in a new way without the social pressures that work against your fitness goals. BONUS: Exercise is linked to improved productivity, memory and focus — all the more reason to take your work besties to the gym instead of the bar.

How To Choose The Right Workout Buddy For You

Once you find a workout buddy, it’s important to make sure it’s the right relationship for both of you to achieve your fitness goals. Remember, the goal is to make each other more effective at achieving your fitness goals — not just to experience the camaraderie that comes with a new friend.

Ideally, you want your workout buddy to be a match in three ways: logistically, athletically and emotionally.

Logistics 

  • First and foremost, your schedules and workout preferences should complement each other. Look for someone who enjoys working out at similar times of the day and week, as well as someone who enjoys similar types of exercise as you do.
  • You also want to look for someone who has similar fitness goals as you do. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to have the same goal weight; however, if one of you is trying bulk up while the other is trying to slim down, your workout choices might clash.
  • Similarly, your workout buddy should have a similar lifestyle when it comes to health. One University of Illinois study found that we tend to order food similarly to those around us, and we feel better about making healthier choices when they’re shared with others. So make sure you’re on similar pages when it comes to that post-workout snack.

Skill Level

  • In one famous study, participants were asked to ride a stationary bike while their perceived “virtual partner” cheered them on through a headset. The partner, however, was actually just a recording aimed to create a feeling of teamwork. The participants were also told that their “virtual partner” was riding 40% longer. The result? The participant’s performance increased by 90% when they thought their partner, who was depending on them, was slightly more fit. The participants simply didn’t want to be the weakest link. Therefore, the optimal workout buddy should be about 40% better than you, according to this groundbreaking research.
  • While working out with someone who you perceive as slightly better than you may increase your motivation, it can also have the opposite effect when taken to an extreme. One researcher says that if you feel so stressed that you begin overeating or avoiding your workouts, then it’s a sign you’re with the wrong workout buddy.

Emotional Bond

  • Most gym-goers fall easily into one of two categories: the headphones-on “don’t talk to me” type, or the social butterfly who only enjoys a workout with others. While either one is fine, you do want to try to match your “gym personality” with your workout buddy. This ACE Fitness Personality article walks you through the different types, so you can make a more informed decision.
  • While a little research never hurts, the genuine emotional bond between you and your workout buddy is where the real magic happens. Your preferences might even change over time, as you get more or less serious about your time in the gym. Every few months, take stock of your relationship, and ask yourself if it’s working. Then, lean on some solid communication to make subtle changes and achieve more.