Working out is one of those things that varies so much from person to person. Each individual has their own specific way of doing things. Some people like HIIT. Others take lots of breaks. Some are outdoorsy. Others are gym rats. Even down to if you like working out with someone else or going at it alone. Each person has a set of things that they need in order to have a successful workout.
Even after all of these specifics are realized, if you decide you like to workout with other people, you have one more step to go.
Picking out your workout buddy.
On the outside, this may seem like a simple task, but when fully thought through it becomes more like you are interviewing a candidate for a job interview.
Will they be on time?
Do they have the gear necessary?
Are they reliable?
Are they in it for the long haul or just until spring break?
The list goes on and on.
But once you get past the many obvious factors of a workout buddy, there are three key things that many people stress out over for no necessary reason. All because of what they have been led to believe a workout buddy needs to be. But don’t stress. There are three fast and simple ways of getting past these interpretations so you can find your true match and have a great and fun workout.
It often seems like everybody is best friends with the person they work out with. When you see them at the gym or running together they are always laughing and chatting away about any and everything. But that is most likely not the case. Although in some instances the two people you see may have been friends since they were five, a lot of the time those two only see each other those couple of days per week when they throw on their workout gear.
It can be a strange relationship to have, but it becomes relatively normal once you get into the swing of things and form a habit. And it never even has to be a formal arrangement between the two of you. Many times workout buddies come from these habits that we form. If the two of you appear at the same place to do similar workouts at the same time continuously, you will eventually end up speaking to each. If not just out of the strange sense you get from seeing another person often.
I have done a variety of different types of workouts with an equal, if not greater, variety of people, all of whom I had different relationships with.
The best friend.
The trainer (in training).
Although the process of actually getting into the workout was different with each person, once you start going through the movements, they are all exactly the same. You start with the ‘how’s it going?’, tell random antidotes that you think of, compliment each other when something goes well, and give a wave with a ‘see you next time’ at the end of it.
As long as you both have a passion for what you are doing and are willing to work hard, working out together can be beneficial to the both of you and make it a lot more fun than simply going at it alone. Even if you never will see or speak to this person outside of those few hours.
Positive Polly or Negative Nelly?
As with any relationship, there is a fine line you balance when under stress. You either are raised up to the highest of optimists or you become exceedingly bitter and pessimistic. Alone, these people are fine to have around, but when you get one on each side of the spectrum it can be dangerous.
My sister and I fit this lethal combination to a T. While I often will look towards almost being done and the goal, she often looks at what has happened during and gets upset. A while back we decided to go on a 20+ mile bike ride through a very hilly area to our grandparents cabin. About 7 miles in, I was in front and she was twenty yards behind me and neither of us were speaking to one another. Nothing specific had happened. She was upset and complaining and I was excited and enjoying the adventure. By the end, we were both so tired that there was no pessimist or optimist, simply exhaustion.
But just as similarly you do not want two of the exactly same type of people working out together, because you either will spiral into a vortex of negativity or you will spend too much time being peppy that you wont be able to focus on the actual workout (I am very guilty of this).
The perfect sweet spot is finding someone who has a slightly more positive or slightly more negative disposition than you. This way you are able to understand each other’s views on the situation, but still motivate each other to power through. Finding the perfect balance may take a bit of time, but once you find it, it is well worth it.
The Tortoise and The Hare?
Now there are is a lot of important lessons that can come from the story of the tortoise and the hare. But when you get right down to it, it’s important to recognize that not only was the tortoise at a complete disadvantage, but the hare was as well. Neither animal was being given the opportunity to fully show off what they are capable of or better themselves during the race.
Whether you are at the tortoise or the hare’s level doesn’t matter when you are looking at a workout buddy. In any aspect of your life, in order to improve you need to be challenged. The same goes for working out. When you are doing exercise your partner should be close to your skill set, but not exactly at your level. Instead they should be better than you in whichever form of exercise you choose: more endurance, stronger, faster, etc. This way you, whether indirectly or not, you become in a bit of a competition with your partner and try to improve, if only to beat them.
However, just like in the story if you are challenged too much too quickly you are likely to get frustrated and give up.
That being said, do not fear the opposite. If you end up with a partner who is a little less skilled than you are in a specific area look at it as a challenge to both teach them and improve their abilities as well as to keep yourself improving so you can stay in that teaching role that your partnership has set up.
No matter if you end up being the pessimist or the optimist, strangers or best friends, the tortoise or the hare, every workout relationship is important to your own growth and should not be taken for granted. Appreciate what the other person offers you in those moments and help each other to elevate both of your performances until you exceed above and beyond what you ever thought possible on your own.