How to choose an exercise buddy

An exercise buddy can help you stick with your fitness routine as well as share challenges and triumphs, so it pays to choose them wisely.

Personal trainer Craig Bone says there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to choosing a friend to work out with.
 
“Exercise buddies can help motivate and inspire each other and if you’re competitive, you can compete against each other to keep improving,” Bone says.
 
However, in his 13 years of training, Bone has sometimes seen exercise buddies act more as a hindrance than a help in achieving a healthier life.
 
Here are five things to consider when choosing an exercise buddy that’s right for you.

1. Opposites detract 

Bone suggests finding a family member or friend at a similar level of fitness to you who has similar goals.
 
If you’re just starting an exercise routine or you’re getting back into it after a break, pairing with a much fitter friend could be intimidating and demotivating. Imagine working out with someone training for a marathon if your goal is to just get moving and stay moving!

2. Shared preferences and timetables

If you’re a morning person who loves walking, find a friend with similar preferences instead of a night owl who likes to dance up a storm. 
 
Bone says it’s also vital that you are both reliable and punctual. The exercise friendship will likely not work if one party is experiencing more exasperation than perspiration.
 
“Put your regular exercise times in your diary like any other appointment. Having the time and day locked in will help you stick to your commitment.”
people cycling

3. Have fun with goal setting

Maybe you want to fit into a certain outfit for a family occasion in six months’ time and your buddy wants to be able to wear a new swimsuit on a holiday booked for around the same time.
 
By setting and sharing specific goals, you and your buddy can encourage each other with reminders about the rewards that lie ahead.

4. Establish your mutual workout style

Bone says discussing expectations with your buddy about how you can help each other is a great way to start a beautiful workout friendship.
 
You may want your buddy to use a firm (but positive) coaching approach, whereas your buddy may respond better to a more nurturing approach. Both are valid and should be respected.

5. No buck passing

Buddies are there to cheer and encourage you, not to be held accountable for your performance. Give your buddy ‘permission’ to coach you, but acknowledge he or she is not responsible for your success or failure.
 
Set your own goals to retain control and therefore responsibility for your actions, but ask your buddy to push you to challenge yourself. 
 
“Always surround yourself with positive people – an exercise buddy should encourage and challenge you – never boss you around, belittle you or be jealous of your progress,” Bone says.
 
“Best of all, having an exercise buddy – and the right one – gives you someone to celebrate with when you reach your goals.”
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