When you are following a fitness regimen by yourself, it’s easy to chicken out, telling yourself that you are too tired, that skipping one day won’t really hurt you, that a chocolate muffin does contain some nutrients.
With an exercise partner, you have that one essential ingredient for every fitness regimen — someone to nag you, motivate you and make sure you stay the course that you have chosen.
There is also the added element of competition — if your fitness buddy goes to the gym without you or forgoes that chocolate muffin, they’ve scored a point over you. That kind of friendly score-keeping helps keep you stay focused and committed.
Working out together can also help you relax, you can chat to pass the time and you have someone to celebrate every small — or big — milestone.
Don’t expect it to be all camaraderie and disappearing kilos, though.
In the beginning, there will be speedbumps. One person will typically be lazier and more lethargic than the other, will sometimes refuse to get off the couch or will feel like they can’t keep up and will get discouraged.
Give it time, though, and you will find your rhythm, especially if you have chosen your buddy well — and chosen a workout that you can both enjoy.
Picking the right fitness buddy is, of course, vital. Choose a good friend or a close family member, someone who is reliable and genuinely committed to staying fit. Get the right partner, and you will find it that much easier to internalise your fitness routine.
You will also find it more difficult to chicken out. After all, you don’t want to keep letting a good friend or a loved one down, making them miss their workout because you can’t keep to yours, or binging when you shouldn’t have and bringing you both down.
A fitness buddy also means someone to celebrate with, and this is important.
Be sure to break down your overall fitness goals into smaller, more manageable chunks, so that you can applaud each other when you reach your goal. Occasionally, celebrate with a fun night out in the town.
Soon, you will realise you’ve been working out / dieting / exercising / doing yoga for months without a break, and with barely a groan.
If you’ve picked someone you really like spending time with, you will in fact feel like you are reaping double the benefits — getting fit while also socialising or spending quality time with a loved one.
You’ll end up looking forward to the workouts rather than dreading them.
(The author is a physiotherapist and head of fitness at gym chain Talwalkars)