When I began the journey to a healthy lifestyle, I began it on my own. I didn’t join a support group or fitness club, didn’t have a structured diet plan handed to me nor did I partner with someone else who wanted a healthier physical and spiritual lifestyle. I struck out completely on my own, did a lot of reading and research and consulted with my doctor on some issues.
Was this the right way to go about beginning the quest for a healthy lifestyle? Yes and no. For the most part, it was the right decision for me. I was sick and tired of the merry-go-round and being out of God’s will in regard to my taking care of my physical body (i.e. neglecting it!). I’d finally had enough of failing on my own so I surrendered my lifestyle to God and was self-motivated enough to stick with the plan. As for exercise, I had partnered with others in the past, but after a few weeks, when the first phase of motivation and determination waned, I found myself showing up at the walking track or gym alone.
Another reason I decided not to buddy is because, whether it be walking, jogging, aerobics, strength training or any other form of exercise, I have a certain pace and level of intensity I maintain for an effective workout. If you are not paired with someone who exercises at the same level as you and has similar goals, one of you may be holding the other back.
However, there were times when I wished for a like-minded exercise buddy for emotional support, to discuss the struggles and successes we were going through as we walked the path together. There’s something to be said about being held accountable to someone else who also understands on a personal level the issues you’re facing.
There’s no right or wrong answer on the decision whether to buddy or not to buddy. It’s a personal decision based on your personality and your motivation level. If you know yourself well enough to realize that if, after the first gung-ho phase you’ll slowly fade back to little to no exercise, then by all means recruit yourself an exercise buddy. If you choose to do so, there are a few things to keep in mind that will help everyone in your group, whether it’s two or ten.
- Share your goals with your buddy. If your goals are not very similar the partnership may not be effective for either of you.
- If you find a friend with similar goals and you decide to partner, formulate an exercise plan together. Since schedules may not allow you to exercise together every day, you need a plan for both the days you exercise alone and the days you exercise together. Remember to keep it simple and a routine that you both can stick to and enjoy.
- When you are exercising together, be careful that exercise is the main focus and not your conversation. It can be very easy to fall into a conversation and, before you know it, you’re having an easy workout, your pace has slowed and your posture/form (relaxed shoulders, relaxed core, etc.) is not where it should be for a maximum workout.
- Pray for each other every day of the week as you carry out your plan together.
- Be available to listen to each other and hold each other accountable.
If you choose not to buddy, the tips are very similar.
- Formulate an exercise plan. Always remember to incorporate exercise that you enjoy and keep your goals simple.
- Explain your exercise plan to someone else and ask for prayer support. Tell them it’s okay to ask you from time to time how you’re doing; it helps to keep you on track and accountable.
- Exercising alone is an excellent opportunity for solitude with God. Use it as your alone time with God, talk to Him.
- Play uplifting, upbeat Christian music while you exercise. This is a great time for praise and worship!
Regardless of whether you decide to buddy or not to buddy, choose to view exercise not only as physical program but as a spiritual one with control given over to God. See it as an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of and trust in the One who created you!