For some of us, solitude is the point of working out. It’s a chance to unplug from work, escape the pressures of family life and enjoy some meditative time just being.
Yet, let’s be real: It’d be nice to have someone to work out with from time to time. You might look to someone you’re already friends with as an alternative to meeting up for the same old drinks, or choose someone you only work out with, who inspires you to be better, and who can relay tales of struggles and success. It could simply be someone who makes working out feel like going out.
But once you decide that, yes, you do want to get sweaty with someone else, where do you turn? We’ve put together a list of how to get started on finding the perfect workout partner.
This is the best place to start. Check with your friends. Talk to your family. If you have a trainer, maybe they’ll make an intro. See if they know anyone with the same workout habits you have or someone who aspires to share them. It can be hard to find the perfect partner this way — just because Mom says your cousin likes to run doesn’t mean they can match your mile pace, but it’s worth a shot.
KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS PEELED
You might be surprised how many run clubs and workout groups are in your neighborhood already and eager to bring you on as a new member. My local brewery/pizza place regularly posts signs for bike groups whose rides end at the brewery (nice!), and chances are your local bike shop will have good intel on riders whose skills align nicely with your own. If anything, you can also get creative with Google; virtually every major city has a few dedicated amateur groups for your workout of choice, with subgroups suited to different skill levels.
TAKE A CLASS
If you want to find a tennis partner, you can’t do much better than joining a group tennis lesson and making friends there. The same principle applies to just about any workout or sport you try. If you want to find people who share your interests, go where the interested people go. (Note that this also works for, say, a spin class or even yoga. This is nice because you can already tell if someone is at or near your fitness level and maybe even has a similar schedule to yours.)
PLACE AN AD
Well, not really … But you can crowdsource over social media — Twitter and Instagram work well for this, while Facebook has a special feature for gathering recommendations from your online friends. See if anyone you know knows someone who knows someone and put the networking back in social networking.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT
As part of the MapMyRun community, you can connect with like-minded people in your community by seeing who else is running in your neighborhood or through the conversations happening in our Facebook groups. (And in the interest of full disclosure, there are other apps and sites like WellSquad and MeetUp that will help you connect with potential workout partners.) As with anything where you’re meeting strangers online, just remember to be safe and use your common sense.
GO ON SOME FIRST DATES
As with your romantic life, finding someone you’re willing to commit to requires some trial and error. Give yourself permission to try working out with someone — and just as important, give yourself permission to stop working out with that someone if it just isn’t a fit.
As for what you’re looking for in a partner, well, start with being honest with yourself. Do you want someone to chat with or someone to compete with? Science says to pick someone slightly fitter than you (essentially, people tend to perform better when they think other people are performing better). But maybe you enjoy mentoring and inspiring someone else.
Perhaps the two most important things are a) finding someone whose workout style and ability matches your own. It’s one thing to motivate another person (or be motivated by your buddy); it’s another to spend your time ultimately alone because the other person either can’t keep up or won’t slow down. And then b) finding someone whose schedule aligns well with yours. It’s hard enough to get regular workouts into your busy life. You don’t want another thing to juggle on top of all that.
The good news is you’re living in perhaps the best time in world history to connect with someone who shares your exact interests, style and schedule. Take advantage, and you might just be surprised at how well it works out.