Workout Buddies Don’t Always Work Out (But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way!)


One statement I hear often is If I had a workout buddy, Id be motivated to workout. It sounds good in theory, but theory does not always translate in the real world.   

Sharing a workout with someone else, as a way of entertaining yourself is one thing. Becoming reliant on that other person’s present to keep you motivated is another, and it can wreck your fitness program in subtle ways. 

For that reason, I don’t, as a rule, recommend using a workout buddy.

Now, before you assume that I’m some lone-wolf workout fanatic, let me tell you that I’ve had a workout buddy, my mom, and the system worked well for both of us. I miss having her as part of my fitness routine since I moved away from Southern California. 

For several years, every Monday and Friday, she picked me up and we went to the gym. And sometimes we jogged or power-walked at the park. This not only served as added motivation for both of us to work out, but also allowed us to spend more time together.

Our workout buddy relationship was a success because each of us was internally motivated, and did not rely on the other for her workouts. 

If one of us was sick or out of town, the other kept up with her routine. The buddy system enhanced our individual commitments and motivation and made our workouts more enjoyable.  But it could have turned out very differently. 

When reliance on another person becomes your most important motivating factor for working out, your exercise program is in jeopardy. 

First, the assumption is that the other person has enough motivation for you both. 

This is never the case. While we can all be influenced by the motivation of someone else, our own internal motivation is needed to carry us the distance. 

And, if both parties are significantly reliant on the buddy relationship for motivation, they are doomed to fail from the start. Their individual lack of internal motivation will not only end the buddy relationship but their own personal exercise programs as well.

Second, if you have a workout buddy who moves away or has a change in schedule, the fact that the buddy is gone can serve as a de-motivating factor in your own workouts. 

This is also true for the person who depends on the presence of a personal trainer to keep motivated. 

If your motivation to exercise becomes largely linked to the physical presence of another person, you are less likely to stay on track because the other person will not always be available to exercise with you.

Third, when two people connect as workout buddies, they often have different goals, are at different fitness levels, and have different needs. 

If you follow your workout buddy’s exercise program, you may not get an intense enough workout, or the right type of workout, for the results you want. 

On the other hand, you could end up pushing too hard to keep up with your buddy, injuring yourself in the process.