Body Blog: Gym Buddies, A Life Saver for Healthy Habits?
An old proverb reads, “It is unpleasant to go alone, even to be drowned.”
So true! Especially when you are diving head first into a workout regimen at the gym. But does having a gal pal at your side boost your productivity or slow you down with bad energy? Read on to find out!
Pro: I was well aware of my college’s hip fitness center, but I avoided it like the adjacent Dunkin’ Donuts during my first week there. While I was a freak about exercising every day at home, I had never worked out in a public place. What if I used the equipment the wrong way? What if my gym clothes were too tacky? I couldn’t have everyone laughing at me from the get-go. It took a girl I met during orientation — we’ll call her “Kayla.” One night she asked quite out-of-the-blue, “There’s an ab toning class at 7:00 AM tomorrow in the gym, want to go?” Her lack of vanity made me ashamed of myself. I went to class the next morning and went nearly every day from there on out. A girlfriend may be just what it takes to help you let go of gym anxiety.
Con: The same girl who got me into the gym eventually ditched me. Kayla was out of shape and unhappy with her body. After she came to realize I was a health freak, she was convinced I was her answer to get the results she wanted. I certainly didn’t mind — I love sharing the knowledge I’ve learned to whoever wants it. But eventually the novelty wore off for Kayla. I found myself in our 7am abs class alone. I kept up my habits anyway. While a friend may help you get your butt in the gym, it’s not unlikely that you’ll end up finding yourself there alone. It may prove difficult for you or your buddy to sustain the same exercise regimen and one of you may quickly lose interest. If that happens to be you, find a new gym buddy with goals and a schedule similar to your own. If it’s your gym friend, like mine, who stops showing up, just keep on keepin’ on. You don’t need her to reach your goals.
Pro: I don’t even mean this from a competitive standpoint, but having someone next to you at the gym will make you exercise better, harder, and longer. When I used to run on the treadmill, the miles always ticked away faster when someone was running with me. It’s just more stimulating to the mind. Doing yoga or another studio type of exercise with a girlfriend is especially beneficial, too, as you can help each other out with moves and poses.
Con: Depending on having someone to go to the gym with might actually discourage you from working out! If you only feel comfortable when Suzanne or Debra is with you, you might find yourself skipping workouts when their schedules keep them from joining you. It’s my mantra that you should maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself, which means it shouldn’t matter who is at the gym with you. If I waited for all of my friends’ schedules to synch up, I’d probably still be waiting to go exercising.
Pro: I’ve limited my discussion almost exclusively to girlfriends, but gyms are certainly co-ed! Going to the gym with a guy friend is a perfect opportunity to bond while doing something you both like. If your exercise regimens are very different, don’t despair. He’s not going to expect you to bench press 100 pounds with him. You aren’t going to make him twist like a contortionist on a pilates ball. But no gal ever turned down an opportunity to spend time with a guy she likes, right? I wouldn’t necessarily recommend man-hunting in a gym, though. Remember to keep your intentions pure!
Con: Competition, of course! It’s so easy to start comparing bodies, speed, and strength — even if only mentally. You may soon grow frustrated with yourself for not being as good as someone else, or you may find yourself intimidating your friends and putting them down. The most successful gym buddy partnerships generally exist between people of the same fitness level with similar interests and a positive attitude toward exercising, Big discrepancies in these areas may lead to hurt feelings and loss of friendship. Many of us go to the gym to escape from drama for awhile — don’t let it follow you into your quiet space!
Pro: Who says gym buddies have to stick to the gym? While I’m not a huge fan of running anymore, am I going to object when a few of my girlfriends get together and want to jog the Esplinade on a sunny day? Nothing like it in the world, I tell you. Use exercising with pals as another way to explore your college town.
As in every other aspect of life, a friend may be just the support you need to keep from sinking in your attempts at exercising. If you find that having another person is just an anchor around your neck, however, don’t be afraid to go it alone. Better yet, grab your iPod or Zune and get going. MP3 players are the perfect gym companions — they never stop entertaining you and they are completely judgment free. Nothing cements a friendship, though, like sweating it out together.