I am often conflicted about the buddy system where exercise is concerned. I have a long-held opinion that you have to be completely responsible for your own body, and buddy-based exercise can motivate you (ďI have to go, my buddy is waiting for me.Ē), but just as easily demotivate you (ďMy buddy doesnít like to run in the rain, so Iím going back to bed, too.Ē).
On the other hand, my hubby and I took a long walk together this morning, and the merits of buddying up for exercise seem abundantly clear to me right this minute. We held hands. We watched ducks. We worked on imagining our future. We looked at a lot of beautiful homes. We replayed our week, looked forward to the next one, and got in a good hour of low-impact aerobics.
Well, Iíve got to say, that was one great hour.
And I have buddied up before, when training for a run, when taking dance classes, and have signed on for shared sessions with old friends for Pilates Reformer work. So, despite my ardent loner-exerciser stance, Iíve done it enough now that Iím willing to say combining my social and family life with exercise has a whole lot going for it.
* Once I got over all my fears of running with friends — will I be too slow, will I be too weak, will I look stupid in my running gear — and could relax, I soon realized that giggling along with buddies makes the miles a lot shorter. Somehow I ran a lot faster, too. Well, same with walking. Belly dancing. Ballroom dancing.
* Being the weakest walker or runner in the pack isnít the end of the world at all. Youíve got nowhere to go but up, and nobody on a buddy run or walk minds slowing down.
* Taking classes with family and friends helps to eliminate the dependency problem. If your buddy doesnít show up for class, or you donít feel up to it, so what? You each still have a class to go to.
* Getting exercise with family members lets you have your face time, plenty of time to talk, and puts a healthy emphasis on health.
* Working out while talking helps you keep your work at the right exertion level, especially when youíve been out of shape and are working at restoring your strength. Itís so easy to overdo your workouts. As long as you can talk, youíre probably working out at a healthy level.
* Working out with friends helps to take the anxiety out of working out in public. For those of us recovering from morbid obesity, this is a pretty big hurdle. Friends and family can ease you past it with grace.
* Offering to buddy up for exercise is a good way to let your buddy know you care about their health and well-being.
* I always learn something when I share a workout with someone. I pick up a tip, a piece of information, a posture tip, some bit of news that makes my workout better. Seeing the work from another bodyís perspective is always a learning advantage.
I donít think every workout will be a buddy workout for me. I like exercise for the plain old ďme timeĒ it gives me much too much, time to work out my own thinking, attend to my own body. But Iím awfully glad Iíve given myself the option to share some workouts with people I love.