And Vice Versa
One way to make sure that you maintain your exercise motivation, hold yourself accountable to workouts and living a healthy lifestyle is to find a fitness partner. According to Registered Dietician, Dr. Martina Cartwright, "Close companions play a powerful role in modeling fitness habits through social modeling, or our tendency to mimic the actions of those around us".
Without a fitness partner for encouragement and accountability, when your alarm goes off at 6am and you are facing a busy day ahead of you, the last thing you want to do is head to the gym. It seems so easy to say, “I will go tonight,” or “I can just go tomorrow.” We are all guilty of these rationalizations sometimes. It helps us feel better about our decisions to skip the workout.
While no one is going to die from not getting into the gym “just this once,” it is important to keep fitness goals that you set for yourself. If you let this “I will just do it later” attitude affect your workout schedule, it could easily creep into other aspects of life. By sticking to your health and fitness goals and honoring the commitments you have made to yourself; you feel more accomplished, empowered, and in control of YOUR life.
As Dr. Cartwright points out, "friendships are a valued source of motivation, encouragement, and inspiration". At my gym, some of the girls and I have a day that we have declared “Girl Thursdays” as our time to hit the gym together. My girlfriends, Andrea and Ryen, make it a lot more difficult to bail out on my plans because I feel like I have someone else depending on me. Since there are so many men at our gym, we like to have our own special time to go in and compete with the boys. This is also our time to catch up on what is going on in each other’s lives. While I do not hang out with Andrea or Ryen outside of the gym environment, they have become a great support system for me during my fitness training.
To find a fitness partner, you may want to look for someone who has similar attitudes, beliefs, and values, known as attitudinal similarity, as you.¹. It would be of no benefit to you if your fitness partner was not equally or more motivated than you are to hit the gym. While there are several other girls who go to the gym with me, not all of them seem as dedicated and motivated to fitness as I am.
By finding my own fitness partners who are also motivated and determined to get better and stronger during each workout, I can count on them to push me to try to reach my full potential. While working out alone, it can be easy to cut that last set short, not give 100%, and even head home early:
- Co-participation with someone who has done the activity before. Ex: Going on a walk or weight lifting together.
- Modeling a friend who has done the activity before. Ex: She/he started a new workout and diet plan. She/he has seen results from following the program, so you model their actions and begin to participate in the exercise and diet regimen as well.
- Verbal encouragement from others. When you have a friend there to push you through it, you learn dedication and perseverance.
This can also be done through social networking. By posting your progress or goals where others can see and comment on them will hold you more accountable to a larger group. The next time you hit the gym, bring a friend or try to make a new friend and support each other as a source of accountability as a fitness partner. It’s like free motivation! While it cannot compare to a “real life” fitness partner by your side in the gym, share your fitness goals and successes below or share your favorite story on Facebook and Twitter.