Some say that misery loves company, but is that really the case when we’re working out?
I’m one of those people who doesn’t love to work out. It’s true — believe it or not, finding the motivation and dedication to make my workouts a priority has always eluded me if I was flying solo. I’d start with big eyes and bigger dreams…plans to work out four days per week, eat 5 servings of veggies per day, and cruise into wellness like a boss! By the end of the first week, I was “forgetting” to set my alarm, avoiding the produce aisle like the plague, and feeling like a big ol’ loser.
Research shows that having an accountability buddy will not only keep you committed to pursuing your goals; it’ll also give you a much better likelihood for success and make you less likely to give up when distractions arise. According to a study from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University, married couples who worked out together only had a 6.3% drop out rate, while those worked out separately bailed at 43% over the course of a year. The interesting part? These couples weren’t necessarily engaging in the same type of exercise, meaning it’s not necessary to be joined at the hip with your buddy! Why? Because having a loyal sidekick in sweat makes the time pass quickly, true—but it’s more about the positive reinforcement, coupled with the fear of letting someone down that makes the accountability partner most valuable.
How do I pick the Accountability Spock to my Captain Kirk? I choose wisely, because not all sidekicks are created equal. Ever gone shopping with your partner, and after five minutes at the mall he’s whining and shambling around, Walking Dead-Style? That’s what a bad buddy is like—total drag, miserable, and kind of smelly. Here’s what I look for in a workout mate:
1. Similar Motivation
Think about it: If your accountability partner’s idea of a workout is a walk to the fridge, and yours is a Spartan Race, you might want to find another partner. The goal is to motivate each other of course, but you have to share common ground to get to that point.
2. Similar Schedules
If you can’t even schedule a virtual coffee date with your buddy until July 2022, how are they going to schedule three sessions per week with you? Instead of setting yourself up for failure before you even take your first class of the year—choose someone else.
Aretha was onto something in so many ways! Your partner should motivate you to be better and to do better, or at least to strive for more, not drive you into the throes of woe! Try to find a tag team partner whose fitness you respect and admire. If your buddy is less fit than you or lives a lifestyle that’s less-than-enviable, it could be difficult for you to ignore those factors when you’d rather Netflix and chill than power through a Magic Circle of Doom workout.
4. Attitude is Everything
Misery is demotivating, and it’s hard to make positive change when you’re surrounded by Debbie Downer and her besties Molly Miserable, Simone Sarcasm and Larissa Lazypants (I have been all three at various points in my life and I promise you—I couldn’t even motivate myself!). Instead, choose an accountability partner who comes from a place of, “Yes we can,” and not “meh, I’d rather not.”
Remember—this is not a one-sided endeavor: If you’re looking for a partner, but you’re not willing to elevate them as you hope to be, it’s never going to work. This journey into the New Year may be hard work for all parties involved, but the benefits are worth every bit of your due diligence.