Finding a workout partner isn't always easy. Here are my secrets to finding someone who will keep you motivated.

March 23, 2009

By Shaun Chavis
I'm in the market for some motivation—in the form of a new fitness partner. It's easier to tear myself away from work in the evening when I've got an unbreakable appointment with a walking buddy or my trainer (since I'm pinching pennies, I don't see my trainer as often these days). People were more successful at losing weight if they had an exercise buddy who also lost weight, according to a 2005 study.

But finding a fitness partner isn't always easy. For me, the best fitness partners were women who needed me as much as I needed them. I've had partners who hit the trails or the gym like clockwork every day. Exercising, to them, seemed as automatic as brushing their teeth in the morning. I'd partner with them, hoping that their great habits would magically rub off on me, but I'd always have this nagging thought, "She's doing me a favor... she's not getting anything out of this." It felt like I was getting exercise charity!

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My favorite partner was an anchor at a television station where we both worked. She was fitter than me, but we started going to a YMCA near the station between the 6 o'clock and 11 o'clock news. We'd get on side-by-side treadmills, so pace wasn't an issue. We both needed each other: I was nervous about going to the gym alone. She couldn't go alone either—not if she wanted to get a good workout. People would recognize her, come over to talk, and her hour would be up before she could work up a good sweat. I helped cut down the interruptions. It was a mutually beneficial relationship, even though we were at very different fitness levels. It was rewarding to know that she needed me to help her meet fitness goals, too.

But great partners don't have to work out together: Amber DeBeer Larson and Amanda Bard both had about the same amount to lose—nearly 100 pounds each. They went to Weight Watchers together, checked in with each other throughout the day to cheer their successes, and pulled each other through rough spots. Sisters Julie Marsh and Cathy Andrew—our April 2007 success story—shared recipes, made diet-friendly food for family gatherings, and found ways to make exercise fun by trying things neither would have tried on her own. Julie lost 85 pounds, and Cathy lost over 100.

I'm curious, what's been the best fitness or weight loss partnership you've had? Who is your "ideal partner?"

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