When I started TwitterGetsFitter in November 2016, my endeavour was rather simple—I needed a workout buddy. It had been months of inactivity and inertia, and I knew that if I wasn’t held accountable, it would likely be several months more.
And so I tweeted asking my friends and followers if anyone would like to buddy up for the last 45 days of the year, and help get each other fitter in time for the all-important New Year’s Eve parties. In all honesty, I expected one or two responses. I received 20 in less than a half hour, and by the end of the day, I had around 200!
Once the initial sense of being overwhelmed had settled, it led me to realise something. A massive number of people truly felt the desire (and even need!) for some sort of companion or buddy on their fitness journey, even if that company was virtual.
The hurdles that kept them from starting a fitness regimen were varied—often the paucity of time, fatigue from long hours at work, or even budget constraints—yet the thought of having someone to buddy up with had mass appeal.
So what was it about the idea of a fitness buddy that charmed so many? Over the past couple of years, I’ve asked this question to multiple TwitterGetsFitter participants, and their responses usually shared certain common threads.
The most common reason that my participants mentioned was the sense of having someone who would hold them accountable. By having a buddy who was as invested in the fitness quest as they were, they knew they were unlikely to be able to miss a workout or binge on chips without being called out on it.
As one participant put it, “It’s halfway between having a personal trainer and a friend”. Your buddy (or buddies) will make sure you stick to your routine, with the added empathy of being on the same journey and knowing that there will be days they need you to keep them on track.
As I mentioned when talking about the accountability factor, having a fitness buddy also comes with the responsibility of being theirs. For people who struggle with sticking to a schedule or programme, this can help them inculcate more structure and discipline into their day. It’s a lot harder to slack off when you know someone else’s routine is dependent on yours!
The moment you have one or more fitness buddies, you’re inducted into a group that’s dedicated to your own and each other’s health. This means planning and researching new workouts, finding healthy menu options at nearby restaurants, sharing fitness hacks, and even randomly messaging each other in the middle of the day with reminders to drink water, or to get a quick walk or stretch (Yes, these are things we do!)
It’s all about being part of something bigger than yourself, and about taking initiative and responsibility—traits that are just as powerful outside of the community.
Last, but far from the least, one of the most powerful things you can have, when you become part of a fitness community, is your own personal team of cheerleaders. Because every member is on their own fitness journey, every single achievement and accomplishment is celebrated—from achieving your five-day workout target to a new personal best deadlift.
In our community, we have celebrated everything from someone quitting smoking, to being able to perform an exercise they earlier couldn’t, to ditching old clothes because they no longer fit.
We also rally and support when you’re having a bad day/week. We understand how some workouts just don’t go the way you planned, or how life can get in the way of your schedule—and we never use guilt or shaming! A fitness community understands the value of every little thing, and your buddies will celebrate you with an enthusiasm only you will understand.
Now I must mention that everyone’s experiences and preferences with regards to fitness and workouts are very personal, and there are several who prefer to workout alone. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
For many, working out alone allows them some solitude wherein they can focus on their routine without distraction. That said, I have noticed this to be more common amongst those who are further along their fitness journeys. Most beginners prefer having a buddy or a workout group to help them learn the ropes and find their rhythm. It’s one of the reasons group classes are so popular with beginners.
Regardless of how you prefer to workout, a fitness buddy can be a great source of motivation and accountability. If you’d rather they didn’t actually accompany you on a workout, using a virtual-buddy system like TwitterGetsFitter can be a great way to have all the benefits of a buddy without the physical presence.
Having a buddy—or an entire community—on your side can be massively empowering for someone struggling to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Human beings are social animals, after all. And some things are just more fun together!
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