While we love the meditative experience of a solitary workout, nowadays, the gym seems to be the new happy hour. As our collective obsession with wellness continues to grow, and countless unique and dynamic fitness classes hit the scene, it's a great excuse to grab a friend for a fun outing that also happens to get you in shape. But beyond the opportunity to log time with your pals, the health benefits of working out with a partner abound: Research shows that it's one of the best ways to keep you accountable, work harder, and even torch more calories.
So the next time you feel your motivation waning, you might consider recruiting a friend to be your gym buddy. Keep reading to find out exactly how you'll both be better for it.
You'll be more motivated.
"Everything is easier when you have a friend to do it with," says model and THE/THIRTY contributor Chelsea Miller, and there's actually science to back up that thought. A 2016 study conducted at the University of Zurich found that those who worked out with a buddy were more likely to hit the gym more often than those who worked out alone—especially if their fitness partner was emotionally supportive.
Recruit a friend with a similar schedule, and keep each other accountable—you're all the more likely to roll out of bed at 7 a.m. for a sweat sesh if you know someone will be there waiting for you.
You'll work harder.
Working out in a group setting tends to bring out our competitive streak—especially if it's with someone we know. For a study published in 2012, researchers at Michigan State University divided 58 female participants into three groups. One group exercised alone, the second with a partner, and the third with what they were told was a "virtual partner"—although in reality, the "virtual partners" were actually just videos on loop of people exercising, so that it seemed like they were outpacing their real-life counterparts.
It worked: During each exercise, the third group outlasted the second group by an average of two minutes, and the first, partnerless group by 10. That means that if you really want to step up your gym game, it's worth recruiting someone who'll keep you on your toes—even if you're just sharing stats over text.
You'll have more fun.
Think about it: You're hanging out with your buds and breaking a sweat in one go. Make the most of it by picking workouts that you know will be a blast for all of you, even if you're not exactly an expert. (A friend and I who are both hopelessly uncoordinated once decided to do a dance cardio class together, and it made for a hilarious evening—capped off by a post-workout glass of wine.)
"Join fun and engaging workout classes with some of your good friends and treat it as a girls' night out, or sign up for training classes with your partner and make it a kind of date-night activity," says Melinda Nicci, sports psychologist and founder of Baby2Body. "That way it serves dual purposes, allows you to multitask and fit more into your busy schedule, and the social element is the best morale booster."
You'll (possibly) save money.
If you've ever wanted to work with a personal trainer, recruiting a friend or two is the most cost-effective way to go. Many trainers offer discounted group rates, so you can still get that personalized attention without draining your bank account.
You'll be less likely to burn out.
If you're prone to workout boredom, bringing a buddy is a surefire way to keep you feeling engaged—even as you roll through set after set of burpees. You can also make things even more interesting by setting different goals and waging bets: Toast a personal best in lifting with a post-gym drink, for example, or if your friend ranks higher than you on the Flywheel leaderboard, you have to buy her coffee.