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Training Partners come in all shapes and sizes as well as levels of expertise and can even be of a different age, sex and yes even animals can count as a training partner. By definition, a training partner is someone that accompanies you and does the same exercise or activity as you at the same time with you. They offer support, camaraderie and that essential kick up the backside on those rare occasions when you don’t feel inclined to exercise.
Yes, we all have those times when we just don’t want to do it. It could be the bad weather outside, it could be the “I’m too tired after staying up late on that big project for work”, or as is more likely nowadays “I binge watched that new show on Netflix last night”. There are going to be an infinite number of excuses to not go to the gym, for a run, or for a walk, but when you don’t get up and get into your gear and grab the lead and head out that door, that furry face and excitement in your four legged training partner is going to give you the biggest guilt trip ever.
That’s the whole point of a training partner, its someone you don’t want to let down. Its someone you made a commitment too as well as yourself, to get fit with, or stay healthy with and most importantly to stay motivated with. When you arrange to meet at the corner of the street or at the foyer to the health club at a certain time, you are not just making a commitment to yourself, you are making a commitment to your training partner too. It’s a symbiotic relationship in that you are each helping the other to stay on track and not be sidelined into making those old excuses. Instead of just letting yourself down, if you don’t turn up to train you are now letting someone else down too. That’s double the guilt trip and double the motivation to turn up and exercise and its that double the motivation to turn up that helps the most. While it’s easy to make the excuse “I’m tired, I’ll work out more tomorrow”, when you have someone waiting for you to turn up, it makes it much harder to go into the old excuse mode.
So, who should you use as a training partner? Well that depends upon your activity of course and your experience. For example, if you set yourself the target of completing your first marathon and you have never run before, then teaming up with your neighbour who does a marathon every month may seem like a good idea. In actuality its likely to become a disaster on the first day, as you struggle to keep up with their pace and see them running off ahead in the distance, as you desperately try to take a breath and get more oxygen in your lungs. Getting a dog to force you to go out running with them is a great idea unless you pick a Dachshund in which case you’ll be doing more weight training carrying the poor thing. Then again teaming up with your neighbour who is a regular at the gym’s circuit training class is a good idea. They can confidently help you in the front door and show you around all the facilities of the establishment, as well as introduce you to the trainers for your induction. This is an incredibly positive step and will keep you well within your comfort zone in this new adventure.
Finding someone in the same situation as you is the most common link up to becoming a training partner and the chat at the pub or club, BBQ or dinner party with your friends will reveal this to you more often than any other social situation. It is not unheard of to advertise on a noticeboard for a training partner and most sports clubs will offer the opportunity to do this too. Overall though most training partners are selected from your social or work colleagues and are a known personality to you and you already get on well together.
The best training partners are those you share the most similarities with especially when it comes to the family situation. A young unemployed twenty something party animal rarely mixes well with someone with both a job and family commitments to juggle as the two sets of priorities are too far apart. So, having someone of similar age and family situation is probably one of the most important factors. Their level of commitment must also match yours as if you are constantly having to cajole them into keeping to the agreed plan then it’s not a partnership and they are not going to be helping you on your tough days. The last thing you need is a training partner all too willing to give things a miss at any excuse. Such partners need to be chatted to seriously and let go if they do not re affirm their commitment to a training program. The level of your training partners fitness should generally be close to your own level, so that you build a stronger training bond as you make the same improvements together. This is not essential, especially in the gym where you train at your own level and ability. The main requirement from a training partner is that they match your commitment to making a change and are there when they say they will be and push you as much as you push them.
Having someone share the journey and the experience of the highs and lows with you is particularly satisfying, especially when you reach the goals you’ve set and pass those milestones along the way, that’s when your training partner becomes a friend for life.