If you’re revisiting some of your old fitness goals to get to the gym more frequently or make time for your morning runs—you’re not alone. In fact, an exercise scientist at the University of Georgia estimates that 50 percent of Americans who start a workout program will abandon it in the first six months.
The secret is hidden in a simple old adage: there’s strength in numbers. Your solution for exercise consistency might be as simple as finding a workout buddy. Research conducted at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that people who exercise with someone else are more likely to turn their fitness resolutions into permanent, sustainable habits.
The question is, how do you track down a fitness buddy? Here are some considerations to take into account before you enlist someone as a fitness buddy.
Decide on the kind of buddy you need
There are different forms of accountability in the fitness world, and they each serve a unique purpose based on what your goals are. For instance, if it’s not be convenient for you to run with a neighbor after coffee each morning, a virtual fitness community that sends exercise reminders to your inbox or through an app could be just the push you need.
Perhaps the opposite is true: you benefit more from the face-to-face connection and stimulation of an actual workout partner. In other cases, you might just need a fitness buddy to help you train for a specific event like a marathon, obstacle course, hiking excursion or another type of challenge that requires months of focused preparation. Consider your specific need and then look for a buddy who can support that.
Schedule is critical to finding a great workout buddy. If your schedules don’t align, then how will you ever workout together? Instead, it simply adds another layer of frustration, as you both try to make your schedules work every week.
A good place to find a workout buddy is your office—you both likely work the same hours, and in the same place, making it easy to connect at a time that’s convenient for both of you. You may even be able to carpool, saving on gas at the same time.
If you don’t believe anyone in your office is interested, or doesn’t have the level of commitment, enthusiasm and follow-through that matches yours, look elsewhere. Check out sites such as MeetUp, which allows you to connect with a workout partner, or group of people, in your zip code. You can even narrow this search based on the exercise, from yoga and rock climbing to tennis and pilates.
You could also look for a local running group. These often meet at least once a week, and are run by an organization. You can count on each group run to happen, where and when it’s scheduled, since the organization’s reputation is on the line. Check with nearby running stores, which often put out group schedules run by their employees, or even the local colleges.
Hone your approach
If you choose to workout with a single person, it’s important to approach them in a way that’s not offensive or pressured. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to accidentally offend someone when it comes to health and exercise.
Approach the conversation in terms of a lifestyle initiative you’ve undertaken to be stronger and more energetic. More importantly, come from an “I” point of view. For example:
- I need accountability.
- I want someone who will help me stay on track.
- I think you’d be the perfect workout buddy.
- I admire your drive.
This does the opposite of offend and instead flatters. It’s a win-win for both of you and a great way to start this new partnership.
Find your best fitness buddy
All signs point to an accountability partner to keep you on track in more ways than one. Not only will they make sure you’re at the gym when you say you’ll be, but researchers at Michigan State University’s Department of Kinesiology found that competition from another person can boost the performance, duration and intensity of a workout, pushing you to continue when you might otherwise quit.
Instead of settling for a resolution that fizzles out in six months, see through your goals with a fitness buddy who’s just as dedicated to the process as you are. The extra support and camaraderie may be exactly what you need.