It's raining outside. Your shoes are still wet from your last walking session. You really should just go out and exercise, but there's something good on TV. Maybe later...
Now try this scenario: It's raining outside. Your shoes are wet and you don't really feel like going for a walk, but your cell phone is blinking with a message from your buddy that says she's already left the house and she'll meet you at the trail. You know you have to go, or she'll give you a hard time for ditching her. So, you grab your soggy shoes and head off for a power walking session. Afterwards, you feel good. You always feel good afterwards; it's the getting started part that's hard.
That's why it's so beneficial to have someone else to exercise with on a regular basis. There's no type of fitness regimen that can't benefit from having a fitness buddy. If it's weightlifting, your buddy can spot you. If it's running or biking, they can push you to go faster than you would if you were alone. If it's climbing, she can catch you when you slip and start careening down the mountain (maybe climbing isn't the safest fitness activity).
Whatever your choice of fitness outlets, a workout buddy can not only push you harder than you would yourself, but they can actually get you out the door. Never underestimate the power of social obligations. Those of us who wouldn't think twice about breaking a date with ourselves cringe at the idea of breaking a date with a friend. Especially if we have friends who are experts at giving the guilt-trip.
OK, so you're sold on the idea of a fitness buddy. But wanting one can be easier than finding one. Your regular friends might not be into fitness, or they're the kind of people who start something with good intentions and gradually slack off. It's important to find someone who is as dedicated to fitness (or more dedicated) than you are. But where to look? Here are some ideas:
Ask a friend, or see if a friend of a friend is looking for somebody. If you belong to a gym or health club, see if there is a bulletin board out front where you can post requests.
Join an exercise class or take some sports lessons; you might find an interested person or two. Check fitness web sites, especially related to your interests; there may be a message board where you can look for activity partners. Whatever route you choose, don't be afraid to initiate proceedings by starting up conversations with people or starting new threads on message boards. You might be surprised at how many people are also looking for regular workout buddies.
Once you find a fitness buddy, don't let him or her down. If you both show motivation and keep to a regular schedule, you'll both reap the benefits.
TC Thorn is a writer for http://www.fitness-buddies.com, a site with articles on fitness and weight-loss as well as a forum for helping people find fitness buddies in their area. This article may be reprinted, so long as the about author information is included in the link is active.