By Mike Jett
The other day I met one of my clients at the gym, and she surprised me by bringing a friend. This particular client works hard, and she seems to enjoy working out, although I do encounter some resistance with her when introducing new and challenging exercises. This day, however, was different. The presence of the friend raised my client’s intensity and compliance to levels I had never seen from her.
Once we moved past the warm-up and into the body of the workout, it was quickly apparent that our visitor was an experienced exerciser, and that she had slightly higher skill and fitness levels than my client. Since this particular session was only a half hour, we did not have much time for small talk, and I needed to back up my claim that you can get a great workout in 30 minutes. We were able to keep a quick pace with very little downtime.
The result of this session was that the presence of the friend took my clients’ focus and effort to another level. We got close to twice as much work completed, and she squeezed out more of those last few painful reps than I have ever seen her do. It was exciting for me to see her work so hard, and the friend was impressed that one could get so much accomplished in only 30 minutes.
So what was it about having her friend present and participating in the workout that made my client elevate her game to a new level? The competition? Maybe. The desire to show off her abilities? Possibly. The need not to look like a slacker in front of one of her peers? Probably. More than likely it was a combination of all three. One thing was certain: Something was going on that made it her best workout ever.
This situation is common. I regularly get more out of clients when training multiple people in one session, and without a doub,t people work harder in our group classes than they do when working out on their own. People get competitive, they want to show their stuff and not be outdone by their workout partner or the person next to them in class. As long as this competition proceeds safely and the macho “who can lift the heaviest weight” contest is avoided, there is nothing but positive outcomes yielded by this situation.
Personally, I also work harder when I exercise with a partner or in a group. I currently have two partners that I workout with separately. One is my girlfriend, Erny, and the other is one of our coaches, Luke. Both are former college athletes, and both are younger and more physically gifted than I. So yeah, I have to work very hard and get out of my comfort zone to keep up with them.
Some specific benefits of training with a partner include:
- Increased motivation – Seeing someone else working hard, or possibly harder, should increase your intensity level. The secret here is to choose the right partner. Team up with someone in similar or in slightly better shape than you.
- More enjoyable workouts – Teaming up with someone you enjoy being around will make exercise much more pleasant. Even if I didn’t like working out, I would enjoy working out with Erny because I simply love being around her. Exercise almost becomes a vehicle for spending quality time together. In our classes at Pure Fitness, sometimes I honestly feel that people are there to hang out with one another, rather than to workout.
- Learning something new – Choosing a partner with a different skill set than you can make working out more fun and challenging. My other workout partner, Luke, has a very different background than me. One thing he has introduced into our workouts is boxing. Sometimes working out becomes stale, so having someone to try new things with will keep it fresh.
Other benefits of training with a partner include having someone to watch your form and technique, which is very important for injury prevention as well as maximizing your results.
Lastly, the accountability of a workout partner is huge. If someone is waiting on you at the gym or in the park, you are more likely to go rather than hit the snooze button.
Guest columnist Mike Jett is the co-owner of Pure Fitness Training. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Health & Fitness