There’s strength in numbers—literally.
There’s strength in numbers—literally. While a solo sweat session can be therapeutic and confidence-boosting, we can all get by with a little help from our friends. Whether you thrive in spin class, at CrossFit, on group runs or at the yoga studio, it’s easier to feel motivated when you can look to your side and see a fitness buddy who can’t stop, won’t stop. (It’s no secret that working out with a partner or group of like-minded people has numerous benefits!) And if exercising at home is more your speed, commiserating over burpees with your online BFFs can motivate you to push your limits.
But what separates the good workout partners from the ride-or-die fitness besties that have your back, 100 percent of the time? Here are 21 signs you’ve found your fitness soul mate—er, swolemate.
21 Signs You’ve Found a True Fitness Buddy
1. The time flies when you’re sweating together.
Want to know how to make that HIIT workout easier? You’ll get a dose of healthy distraction when you’ve got a buddy. Robyn Broker, blogger at Run Birdie Run, forgoes her running playlists when she’s got a friend to entertain her. “A long run with a running BFF is a multi-hour conversation… Sometimes there’s constant chatter and sometimes there’s silence, but running completely transforms when it’s in a shared space.”
2. You don’t give in to each other’s excuses.
It’s easy to tell yourself you can’t do another rep. It’s harder to tell that to a friend. “When I work out with my boyfriend, we push each other way out of our respective comfort zones,” says Lauren Wolman, blogger at Peanut Butter Is My Boyfriend. “Whether he’s encouraging me to lift those 10 extra pounds or I’m convincing him that doing seven minutes of planks is a great idea, it’s not about competition or proving anything to each other. We’re working together to push ourselves further.”
3. You’ll exercise together, even if you’re at different fitness levels.
Think having different fitness levels is a swolemate deal breaker? Think again. NYC-based runner and physical therapist Abby Bales is 30 minutes slower than her 3:04 marathon running buddy, but that doesn’t stop them. “My friend has worked out with me through everything—when I had a colostomy bag, after surgeries, when I was pregnant and barely moving, post-partum, and with my son in a stroller,” says Bales. “She never makes me feel like I’m not worthy of her fitness company.”
4. You’ll sacrifice sleep to meet up.
It’s tempting to hit the snooze button when you’ve got a solo workout on tap. But if you know your friend is waiting for you, you’re far less likely to bail. “My friend Nina is my accountabilibuddy,” says blogger Tracy Davis, who uses the term coined by her November Project workout group. Nina and Tracy made a pact to touch base at 5:45 a.m. to make sure they’re both out of bed and ready to go for a run or to the gym.
5. You’ll help each other recover properly.
Davis’s accountabilibuddy gives her the push she needs to keep her lower body foam rolled and feeling good, too. “She stays on top of me to make sure I’m doing my IT-band recovery work,” says Davis of her fitness bestie. We all strive to #NeverMissaMonday, but hey, sustainable workouts are the end goal, right?
6. You high five or fist bump on the reg.
You don’t have to pat your own back when you’re done sweating—your friend can do it for you. Even if it’s a shaky-armed high-five between push-up sets or a quick fist bump after Tabata, sometimes that classic, old-school form of encouragement is totally more validating than a push notification from your fitness tracker.
7. Their accomplishments are just as exciting as your own.
Whether it’s a race, a CrossFit competition, or holding a five-minute plank, training for your own goals is exciting, satisfying and empowering. Watching your fitness friend hit his or her goals, though? Equally if not more awesome. Runner Meggie Smith, blogger at The Thinks I Can Think, was psyched to watch her friend Jocelyn get a marathon PR, and the support is always mutual. “When I saw Jocelyn after I ran a Boston-Qualifying race, the first thing she said to me was, ‘Of course you did! I knew you would!’”
8. Things seem less scary when you’re together.
While Meghan Conroy’s workout bestie liked the front-row-center spot during spin class, 32-year-old Conroy, a senior research analyst in Los Angeles, preferred a less conspicuous seat. But Conroy eventually made her way to the front row. “I became more brave and finally tried the front row because there were two of us, and there was safety in numbers,” Conroy says. “That made it less scary.”
9. You look forward to your sweat dates, even after a long day.
“By the end of the workday, I’m typically dragging and have zero motivation,” says Conroy. But she can’t turn down the opportunity to meet up with her fitness buddy. “If I made plans to meet my friend at the gym for a boxing class, I’m going to show up. It gives me something to look forward to all day at the office.”
10. You share stuff that would be TMI to anybody else.
Bruised toes, chafing disasters, bathroom breaks gone wrong… you share it all and then some with your partner in crime. True sign of a swole mate? You’re not above swapping blister photos to get advice on popping technique.
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