[digg]When I talk to people about exercise, it often seems they fall into one of two categories. There are those who really enjoy their workouts, and look forward to them. Then there are those who really don’t, but make themselves do it anyway. (There are also those who don’t like it and don’t do it, but we’ll leave that for another time.)

I have usually fallen into the first category, although I occasionally have those days when I just want my work out to be over. Over the years, I have found different ways to keep my workouts fresh and enjoyable. I love taking a yoga class when I can, or mountain biking with my family. Another great way to keep workouts fun is to do it in company. Hiking with friends is a great way to catch up and get in a good cardio workout. And having a partner to work out with regularly can be both motivating and fun. A couple years ago, I felt the need to shake up my routine and decided to hire a personal trainer for a few sessions. Two + years later, and I still work out with Fran and share that hour with my friend Meg most Wednesday mornings.  Research shows that friendship and community boost both health and longevity, so I get a dose of both with my Wednesday workouts.

Suzanne and Meg Post Workout
Meg and I post-workout

Here are a few more benefits of having a friend or partner to exercise with:

  • It makes your workout time fly by. Having a stimulating conversation or catching up on the weekend makes your workout time more enjoyable, which means it will go by faster. You will be done before you know it!
  • It keeps you accountable. When you know someone is counting on you to show up, you are less likely to blow off your workout. When you’re tempted to sleep in, or skip the gym after a long day, knowing your friend is there might be the motivation you need to get there, too.
  • It’s a great way to get – and give – support. Working out with a supportive friend can give you just the encouragement you need to push past the limits you set for yourself. Celebrating your successes helps you to realize how far you’ve come, and keeps you motivated to keep going.
  • It’s a great way to spend time together. Everyone’s busy these days. Scheduling a power walk 3 times a week with your best friend, or your spouse, gives you time together that you wouldn’t ordinarily have. A fringe benefit can be a stronger relationship.
  • It’s just plain more fun! We don’t always get a chance to play as much as we would like. Socializing, laughing, even a little friendly competition – these can all serve to make your workout time something you look forward to.

How can you find the right person? One thing to look for in a fitness partner is someone who is similar to you in fitness level. Be sure the person you choose is committed to their fitness goals. You can also ask around at your local gym. Fran introduced Meg and I, and we have worked out ever since. And I’ve made a wonderful friend.

If your fitness program is feeling a little stale, try adding in a workout or two with a partner. It might be just the thing to shake things up for you.