August 2, 2012 | Filed Under Partners | No Comments
There are plenty of great reasons to start a workout plan in solitude. Some of us are just natural introverts, for example, and sometimes it’s best to keep a new set of goals private for a while to avoid exposing yourself to intentional or unintentional discouraging remarks.
But eventually, many of us decide to turn to others for support and companionship, and this usually brings great results. It’s hard to explain the surge of power and confidence we experience when others are cheering us on. And it’s also hard to explain how this works in reverse—there’s almost no better feeling than that of encouraging someone the way we’ve been encouraged, or giving back the same positive energy that we’ve been given by a companion or a support network.
But if you aren’t an experienced trainer or coach, how can you make sure you’re saying and doing the right things? How can you make sure you’re being an effective workout partner and not leading your team member down the wrong track? Here are a few tips.
Being an Effective Workout Partner
- Watch closely. Pay attention to your partner’s progress. If she has trouble with a certain move on the field or court, help her identify body positions and techniques she may not be able to see on her own.
- Be relentless, but reasonable. If you’ve agreed to run together every morning, apply pressure when she’d rather sleep in. But put yourself in her place, since you’ll be there sooner or later.
- Think before you speak.
- Be reliable. If you said you’d show up at a certain place at a certain time, be there.
- Notice her improvements and point them out.
- Support quick recovery from setbacks. An effective workout partner helps us shake off mistakes and bad days.
- Stay positive. When we’re under stress, a simple smiling face or shout of encouragement can sometimes be all we need.
December 7, 2011 | Filed Under Motivation, Partners, Support Network | No Comments
Who do want close to you when you face your biggest challenges? How can you tell when someone has your back one hundred percent? And who are you ready to motivate, encourage, and counsel with the same energy and commitment that they provide to you? If you have a name that comes to mind immediately in response to each of these questions, you’re a lucky person. But for most of us, especially workout beginners, the answers require a little more thought. Working out is fun and feels great, but if you want to improve your performance and make lasting changes to your health, your workout routine can and should be at least a little bit challenging. And since people are social animals, it makes sense to surround yourself with a few partners who can provide a structure of mutual encouragement and support.
If you can, try to choose partners with similar goals. If you’re working out for fun and health, find somebody who isn’t too competitive. If you’re serious about progress and don’t want to be slowed down, find somebody who will help you tap into your competitive spirit. If you want to move fast, find a fast mover. If you want to stay positive, choose a strong champion. If you want perspective and help with your technique, find somebody who can offer honest and helpful criticism.
If you can’t find willing partners in your own household or close circle of friends, don’t let that stop you, and don’t think it means that you have to work out alone. Head to the gym in a sociable frame of mind, or sign up for a class that might help you break the ice with like-minded strangers. Remember that there are plenty of others around you looking for the same things in a workout partner. You just have to leave your shyness at the door and be ready to reach out.
October 28, 2011 | Filed Under Partners, Support Network, Workout Routines | No Comments
Most of the time, a workout routine is easier to maintain if it involves a social element. It’s harder to break plans when you’ve made them with a friend, and it’s impossible to overestimate the motivation we gain when others are cheering us on. And there are few things more satisfying than offering the same support and encouragement to someone else who needs a hand.
But sometimes it’s a better idea to work out alone. And sometimes it can be beneficial to keep our plans and goals to ourselves until we gain a strong foothold and establish a stable new routine on our way to a healthy lifestyle. If your situation fits any of these descriptions, it may be best go it alone for a while, and gather a social network later on:
1. You’ll be ashamed if you don’t succeed or can’t maintain a consistent routine.
If you don’t want others to track your progress and judge you, that’s fine. Don’t let this fear stand in the way of your health. Work out during times when it’s convenient for you to get away, and stay close to the vest about your progress until you find your feet.
2. You’ve tried working out before and it didn’t go well.
If you’ve stumbled in the past and you’re afraid you may be taxing the patience of your supporters, get the gear, find the time, and gather the motivation your need on your own. Once your routine is well in place and you’re comfortable with your progress, then you can let others in on your plans.
3. Your willpower is fragile.
If one word of discouragement could potentially derail your plans, protect yourself from that word. Don’t make yourself vulnerable to anyone who might criticize you or stand in your way. Not yet anyway.
4. You’re anxious about your body.
Don’t let this concern keep you trapped in a body that isn’t healthy. The only way to get out is to get moving. Just clear your path of unnecessary challenges. Workout when crowds are light and stay focused on your goals, not the mirrors around you.
October 4, 2011 | Filed Under Partners, Workout Tips | No Comments
Making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle can provide a long list of benefits, from improved strength and weight loss to an increased metabolism, better sleep, more energy, improved posture and a more positive outlook. But exercise can offer additional, often under-recognized benefits for your social life.
Working out can be a very social activity, and few things offer more powerful motivation than the sound of friends and partners cheering you on. If you’ve just joined a gym or you’ve recently started adding exercise to your regular routine, consider making use of the buddy system. Bring a friend along on your runs or resistance training sessions. Choose someone who shares at least some of your general workout goals, someone with a similar approach and level of commitment. If you work out with a partner, you can keep each other on track and motivated when things get difficult. You can also offer tips and pointers on technique and give each other perspective when progress seems slow.
If you don’t have a potential workout partner in your circle, head to the gym solo but keep an eye out for classes that might interest you. Group sessions can be fun and can provide a great way to get and give positive reinforcement. Even if you’re shy, regular attendance will eventually help you get to know the other members of the group, who may be friendlier and more encouraging than you realize. Signing up for a regularly scheduled class will also help you stay committed, especially if you begin to see progress (which you will) and you want to keep moving forward.
The process will be easier if you choose a gym or class with like-minded people who seem to share your approach. But don’t be afraid to expose yourself to new people and new situations that can help you grow.
September 2, 2011 | Filed Under Partners, Weightlifting | No Comments
Any exercise routine can benefit from a social aspect, but weight training and cross training are two areas where the advantages of teaming up can be especially dramatic. Working out with a partner can
improve your overall experience and can also lead to faster, more sustained progress. Partnering can also decrease the chances that you’ll let your enthusiasm slide and fall out of the exercise habit.
When you build your workout plans around a partner and the two of you schedule your gym time simultaneously, it makes it harder for either of you to back out at the last minute. Busy people know that time is valuable, and as difficult as it is to break your own engagements, an element of social pressure can make it even harder to break someone else’s.
A partner can provide feedback and offer pointers about things you may not be able to see on your own. If your technique can use some fine tuning, a partner can help your adjust your movements. She can provide perspective and encouragement if you think your progress is too slow, and an honest companion can also keep you on track if you’re getting lazy or think you’re leaping ahead faster than you actually are.
In addition to motivation, partners can provide objective advice and help. If you try to lift too much and get in over your head, your gym buddy can bail you out. And there’s much to be said for sharing the wisdom of experience.
Finally, and maybe most beneficial of all, partners attract more partners. It’s easier to approach strangers, build a support network, or establish a team if you go into the process together. What begins as a simple back and forth can build quickly into a chorus of encouragement.