Working out with a friend can help boost your motivation, make you more accountable and put the fun back in fitness. According to a study out of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, it could also improve your weight-loss results.
However, you can’t just grab any random person out of your yoga class and expect it to be a workout buddy match made in heaven. Here’s what to look for if you want to find your very own BFF (Best Fitness Friend).
1. Opt for someone with a similar schedule.
It’s hard enough to find workout time on your own calendar. When your workout buddy’s schedule clashes with yours (you’re free in the evening, they’re free during the day), it’s even harder.
So seek out a fitness friend who has a compatible schedule—your kids are in the same daycare (you can squeeze in a workout right after you drop them off!), you work similar hours and in close to the same location. This could be a friend, someone you meet in a running club, a girl at your gym who shares the same personal trainer or simply a group of people you find on meetup.com.
2. Stay positive.
The last thing you need when you’re working out is someone who makes you wish you were somewhere else. You want a partner who pumps you up and helps you triumph through your tough routines. And the positivity should be mutual: no whining from either of you! Sure, you’re free to talk about whatever’s happening in your life—positive or negative—but both of you should end almost every sweat session feeling good, energized and happy that you got yourselves out of bed (or away from your desks) to exercise.
3. Make goals—and achieve them—together.
If your goal is to lose 10 pounds and your workout buddy’s goal is to run a marathon, you’re probably not going to follow similar routines. Early on in your partnership, you and your BFF should synchronize your fitness goals. This ensures you’ll have an instant cheerleader who personally knows how important it is for you to reach your own finish line—because he or she is going through the exact same thing!
4. Try buddying with someone who is a little bit faster, stronger and fitter than you.
It may seem counterintuitive to seek a BFF who is kind of out of your league, but the truth is that to really motivate yourself, you often need someone who will push you harder than you’re willing to push yourself. If your goal is to finish a half marathon five minutes faster than last year, then running with someone who is exactly your speed is not going to help you reach your goal. You need someone who will force you to pick up the pace. Likewise, if your goal is 10 pull-ups without rest, pair up with someone who can already do one or two more than you. It may not be comfortable at first, but you’ll thank your buddy eventually.
5. Don’t forget to have fun.
If you’re looking for someone to help you stay fit for life, it can’t be serious and intense all of the time. You need to be able to relax, laugh and chill out with each other too. There will be times when you’re training for something hard together, and then there will be times when you’re squeezing in a two-mile run/walk simply so that you can catch up during a busy week.
It’s all about finding a balance.
Ultimately, you want a BFF who is dependable, will always go to the plate for you and your fitness goals and makes you feel better about everything—not just your workouts.