This year, International Day of Friendship falls on 30th July, and what better way to celebrate it than training with a friend!
No matter what age or fitness level you are, exercising with a friend or in a group has been highlighted in numerous studies as a way of increasing both intensity and frequency of exercise. Unless you are extremely dedicated, it can sometimes be hard to drag yourself out of that comfy chair in your warm living room and get to the gym – especially if you don’t enjoy going! Having plans to exercise with someone else provides extra motivation as you don’t want to let them down. And it doesn’t have to be the gym if that’s not for you. You could attend a group exercise class, enjoy a game of squash or badminton, go for a swim or simply walk/jog around the block.
Here are four tips on getting into a routine that can be applied to either partner or lone training:
- Create a schedule.
Many of us use a diary or the calendar app on our phone to plan in meetings and social events, so why not pencil in your workouts? Having a set date and time planned to exercise (especially with a friend) helps create accountability and means you’ll be less likely to cancel. You wouldn’t skip a work meeting, so why skip a scheduled appointment for your health and wellbeing? People who create routines are much more likely to achieve their goals, as routine creates consistency, and we all know consistency is key.
- Have fun!
We’ve touched on this a little already, but if you don’t enjoy the gym then who says you should go? Your body doesn’t care where or how you burn calories or challenge your cardio-respiratory system, any form of exercise counts so do something you enjoy! If the thought of going for a run is your worst nightmare, then why not book a badminton court or go for a swim instead? Group exercise classes are another great way to exercise while having fun, and if you don’t have a friend or family member that enjoys exercise then attending a class could allow you to meet a like-minded person and even become training partners.
- Be in the moment.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are present when you do it. What we mean by that is try your best to leave all the worries and stresses of everyday life at the door and give yourself 30-60 minutes to focus on your health and wellbeing. This can be easier to do when training with someone else as you don’t have lone rest periods where you’re left with nothing but your thoughts or your phone. Allowing yourself time to really focus on your workout will help to clear your mind and leave you feeling more relaxed, energised and accomplished.
- Choose a goal.
Working towards a goal can give your workouts more purpose and might help with that ‘lost’ feeling some of us get in the gym when we’re not sure what to do. Just be sure any goals you set yourself are manageable, so start off small and work your way up. For example, if you’re not a runner but would like to get into it, start off by doing intervals of running and walking and slowly build up to running for longer before jumping right into a 5k. If you want to get stronger and lift a certain weight, build up to it gradually to avoid feeling deflated when you fail to achieve it first time round. Having a common goal with someone else and working together on this will help with motivation, enjoyment and accountability. You can’t miss a session ‘just because’ as this will not only be letting yourself down but also letting your friend down too. There is also an element of competition – if you miss this session they may go it alone and you’ll be behind next time! Setting goals also provides a tremendous feeling of achievement and teamwork once you start to tick them off and see progress.
So, put simply: Plan, focus, enjoy, achieve! Sharing such a rewarding journey with someone else is a great feeling, but if lone training is your thing then these tips will work just as well for you too. Happy training!