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Buddy Up - Why Workouts with Friends is Key

As a personal trainer and fitness instructor for almost 30 years, I have taught large to small group classes and trained individuals one-on-one and in partnerships. Each of these styles of training are beneficial to the client in different ways.

In this post, I will discuss the specific benefits of partner training - where two clients work out in a session together. Typically, workout partners meet with me 1-2 times a week and then follow a program on other days that can be done separately or together. Workout partners find that having a personal trainer provides direction for a safe, well-rounded fitness program to reach each of their goals with the added bonus of having fun accountability with their friend.

Partner Training with Friends: Deb & Sarah

“If you are reading this, grab a friend and get to work! Working out with a friend is joyful and effortless. It’s a spoonful of sugar.”

- Deb, who does partner training with Sarah, both pictured below

Deb and Sarah have been training with me for over a year. These incredible women met eleven years ago through their children’s activities and they quickly became friends. Both are in their 50’s, have busy careers, and teenagers at home, making it extremely difficult to find time to spend with friends or exercise consistently. Although both value health, wellness, and staying fit, they find it hard to find the time or motivation with busy schedules. Sarah says that she enjoys partner training because “I get to see my friend, it keeps me motivated, and it is at least twice as fun as working out alone.” According to the CDC, people who have training partners tend to be more motivated, committed, and adventurous.

Deb and Sarah are fortunate to have found each other to train with. The best training partner pushes you just the right amount to work hard, are encouraging during sessions, make you feel positive about yourself, are not overly competitive, set goals apart and together, have similar schedules, and enjoy trying new things. Finding the right training partner can be difficult, but once you find the right person, the workout sessions are more fun and motivating, and the commitment to each other creates a strong bond. Support for each other goes beyond the workout session, as the combination of exercise providing stress relief and a supportive friend is invaluable for mental and physical health.

I enjoy leading partner training sessions when it is a good fit. It is important to have similar goals, schedules, and fitness levels to get the most out of the sessions. I have found that partner training doesn’t work well when goals aren’t aligned with each other, different injuries make it difficult to find exercises that work for both people, talking too much discourages each other from focusing on the workout, or one participant shows up late or is distracted during the session.

Partner sessions can include friends, teammates, parents and children, siblings, or couples. Training family members together is a great way to motivate each other and is more time and cost efficient for busy families. For parents, these sessions are a great way for children to experience different exercises and work out safely while spending time doing a healthy activity together. For couples, it creates a bond and shows the whole family the value of staying fit and committing to each other. Partner training is also a more economical way to work with a trainer since the cost is lower per person, making it more affordable than individual training.

Partner Training with Parents + Kids (of all ages!)

Partner Training with Couples

According to Healthline, couples exercising together in a relationship is beneficial because it provides accountability, brings happiness to the relationship, increases emotional bonds, and establishes the mutual commitment and importance of physical fitness which extends out to other activities such as taking walks, hiking, doing yoga together, and finding other ways to spend time in a healthy, active way.

I have especially loved training couples for an upcoming vacation that may include hiking, diving, skiing, or sightseeing involving a lot of walking. Both individuals benefit by being fitter for activities, making the trip more fulfilling.

According to Psychology Today, working out with a romantic partner is associated with a greater positive mood during exercise—beyond the happiness boost that results from the exercise itself—and is correlated with a higher positive mood during the day. Couples who workout together have greater relationship satisfaction because they engage in activities both enjoy and value, which helps them to make progress toward health goals and maintain an active lifestyle through various life stages.

We would have more photos of our couples who train at FIT, but most of them actually train individually! :-)

Partner Training with Athletes

Athletes who participate in sports or are training for an upcoming race, event, or game also make great workout partners. Different from the partner workouts described above, it is more important in this circumstance that training partners are more competitive and push each other enough to do their best. Runners, Iron Man competitors, bike racers, and those who are on sports teams find great value in training with a friend or teammate.

For these sessions, the workouts are based on performance goals, cross training, injury prevention, and setting up a program that is progressive to get each individual to perform their best with the support of their training partner. In my experience, athletes who train with others tend to push themselves harder and are more compliant with sticking with a training program.

Deb and Sarah are planning to continue working out together and highly recommend that others do too. Deb says “if you are reading this, grab a friend and get to work! Working out with a friend is joyful and effortless. It’s a spoonful of sugar.”

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