If we're honest with ourselves, and haven't already built a solid foundation of good habits and a workout schedule, one of the hardest things to do is to consistently go to the gym and get your work out in... at least, that is, when you're doing it by yourself.
A lot of people work out by themselves, and most of the time it's because of not being able to find someone with a similar workout routine and a similar level of fitness, as working out with someone considerably more fit may help you achieve more, sometimes it can demoralize us.
But when we find the perfect exercise partner, they can provide a powerful combination of support, accountability, motivation and, in some cases, healthy competition. "They can play the role of teammate, co-coach and cheerleader, all while working out," says Michelle P. Maidenberg, PhD, MPH, clinical director of Westchester Group Works in Harrison, N.Y.
Another well documented benefit of having a workout buddy is increased safety. They can check your form, making sure that you're lifting your weights correctly to avoid damaging your joints or back with poor form. Aside from that, someone to spot your weights is always a welcome addition to a gym workout, as you can test yourself to the fullest with the biggest weights you can lift without the added danger of dropping them onto yourself or getting stuck underneath them while on the bench.
As well as safety, a workout partner also forces accountability and responsibility into the equation. Canceling one, two, or even three workouts in a row on yourself is one thing, but doing it on a motivated, excited partner is another matter entirely. You may have to force yourself to go to the gym, dragging your feet and perhaps not even getting as good of a workout as you're used to, but even that little bit of keeping your body in motion is better than staying home instead. And then, after a few weeks it'll be habit. Even a bad day or mood won't keep you from canceling on your friend. (Inversely, a partner that cancels on you on a constant basis is probably not one worth keeping.)
Another key factor: Emotional connection. Your workout pal doesn't have to be your best friend, but he or she has to be someone you like and whom you wouldn't want to disappoint, Maidenberg says. Psychologically, if you feel like you have a responsibility and commitment toward another person, you are more likely to follow through on that commitment.
Another study, from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University, surveyed married couples who joined health clubs together and found that couples who worked out separately had a 43 percent dropout rate over the course of a year. Those who went to the gym together, regardless of whether they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 6.3 percent dropout rate.