This is “The Lift,” where we break down simple fitness activities you can do anywhere — and not just do them, but do them right. With these helpful tips, you can take control of your exercise process at your pace.
Swolemate. Partner-in-pump. Sweat sidekick. Workout buddies go by many names. No matter what you call ‘em, one thing stands: These kinds of partnerships come with physical, mental, and emotional perks.
Below, fitness experts wax poetic about workout buddies.
(Trust, by the end of this “poem” you’ll be convinced to slide into someone’s DMs asking them to be your swolemate).
There are many, fit fam, but here are a few.
You might 🎶push it, push it, right up to your limit 🎶
Say “hello” to your inner-competitor! Cause working out alongside someone giving a workout all their might, encourages you to do the same, according to CrossFit coach Eric Cohen, co-founder of 99 Walks, a virtual walking challenge to support movement.
“Doing a timed or high intensity workout with a buddy usually gives you reasons to go faster or at a higher intensity than you might go when you’re training alone,” he says.
The result? You get fitter, faster. Woot!
The accountability factor
“On the days when you don’t feel like working out, having that partner is awesome because [they’re] going to get you there,” says Cohen.
Consider this morning exchange, for example:
You: “Ughhh I don’t wanna get out of bed! I’m tired”
Your workout buddy: “Bitch, I’m dressed and ready to go! Get your ass out of bed. I have some hot gos to tell you.”
You won’t have to ask some rando for a spot
Hey, no shade to the kind folks who have been willing to pause their workouts to spot a bench or squat in the past! But generally, a random exerciser lending a helping hand is going to be more cautious than a long-standing workout buddy (especially in a pandemic).
Is cautious bad? No.
But consider this: You’re going for a bench press 5 rep PR. You’ve hit 4 reps seamlessly. Now, on the last rep, the bar is moving slowlyyyyy. “Someone who doesn’t know you might grab the bar as soon as you slow down, keeping you from officially logging that 5 rep PR as well as keeping you from getting that incremental degree stronger,” says Cohen.
“You can train a long-standing fitness partner so that they know not to help you finish a lift until the bar starts to descend,” he adds. “Plus, you’ll trust that they’ll grab the bar when you need them to,” he says.
It doubles as social time
“Whether you’re dating, married, or single, just having that social time with a buddy is so healthy,” says Cohen.
In fact, the longest living people on Earth credit their long ass lifespan to the strength of human connection. Basically, workout with a buddy to extend your life #Science.
They ramp up the fun quotient
On a similar note… “working out with someone is just a good FUN time,” says certified personal trainer Theodore Savage, fitness trainer with Planet Fitness.
As fitness icon SpongeBob SquarePants once put it, “F is for friends who do stuff together, U is for you and me, N is for anywhere and any time at all down here in the big box or gym.” (LOL).
TBH, the hardest part of having a workout buddy is finding said workout buddy. These tips can help.
Join a group fitness gym or online virtual squad
There are in-person workouts that are known for fostering friendship (CrossFit, pole-dancing, Zumba, SoulCycle, etc.). And there are virtual fitness platforms known for the same (Peloton, Girls Gone Strong, ATHLEAN-X, Tone It Up, etc.).
While these groups are more about helping you find a fitness community than a single workout buddy, the function is the same.
Try working out at the same time every day
If you’ve already got a go-to workout, one of the best ways to find someone to do it with is to be consistent when you do it.
Even over the course of a single week, you’ll notice the same face(s) pass you on the trail or lay their yoga mat out beside you.
Make a Lex personal
Inspired by the 1980s personal ads that frequented mags and newspapers written for an LGBTQIA+ audience, Lex is a text-first social app that aims to connect LGBTQIA+ people.
While usually used as a dating app, community-seekers have also used Lex to find an LGBTQIA+ book club, local BLM protestors, and other pals and groups. So, why the hell *not* use the app to find your workout partner?
Try Tinder for swolemates
Ever wish there was a Tinder for workout buddies? Actually, it exists! Behold: Datefit.
Marketed as “a community of inspiring and motivating fitness lovers (of all levels),” Datefit is a free app that aims to connect swolemates through swipes.
Or just stick to regular Tinder
Yep, you can just use the apps you know and love (to hate): Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge. Just make it abundantly clear that you’re looking for a training partner, not life partner.
Bio example #1. I’m on this app looking for a local running buddy to hit the trails, track, or treadmill with. I’m training for a 10K and would love to do it *not* alone. Slide into my messages with your average mile time and fave local trail and we’ll go from there.
Bio example #2. 8-minute-miler seeks running buddy for long training runs!
Shoot your shot online
Are you part of any online communities or forums that are fitness-focused? (Think: CrossFit Reddit, Gay Hikers Meet Up, and even the comment section of your fave fitfluencer). Cohen recommends sticking your neck out and asking for what you want.
“If you’re engaging digitally in a space where fitness-enthusiasts are hanging out, you might post where you are and what you’re looking for,” he says.
Obvi, don’t post your exact address because #Safety. But posts like, “Looking for bootcampers in the Chicago area to work out with” and “Any CrossFitters near San Francisco? Message me!” are totally kosher.
If the platform allows, you can also message people directly.
So, you might go through all that, and your workout buddy turns out to be a bust. That’s OK!
“Don’t forget that you’re working with a workout buddy for you,” Cohen notes. “So, if it’s not the right fit, you can politely move on,” he says.
Ultimately, “if you feel like the workout buddy takes away from the experience, and doesn’t provide an added sense of comfort, inspiration, FUN, and camaraderie, then that person may not be the best match as your workout partner,” says Savage.
While it’s not a necessity for getting gains, having a workout buddy can def be a positive addition to your workout journey.
Once you find the right match, a partner-in-pump can absolutely increase your enjoyment of your workouts, as well as your performance during them.