As I work with my personal fitness training clients in Fort Collins, I hear things-a lot of things, actually about my clients and their lives. I hear about their kids, their neighbors’ barking dogs, and their work. I also hear them ask about workout partners while they are training with me. They ask, “Do you know anybody I can lift weights with?” “Would you train more than one person at a time if I got a friend to sign up too?” “Do you think I’ll get faster if I do my short runs with an advanced runner from work?” These are all great questions. Are there really benefits (besides great company and conversation) to a “workout partner?”

Research answers this question with a resounding yes. Consider the following:

A workout partner keeps us accountable.

Having a workout partner keeps you accountable and helps you achieve your health and fitness goals As a solo personal training client, you can find some peaceful me-time, but after a while, you may find it difficult to stay accountable to yourself. A workout partner changes that dynamic drastically.

As one of my personal fitness clients says, “I don’t keep my friend, Mary, waiting. If we agree to get up at a ridiculous hour and run together, I can’t imagine standing her up. I’d never hear the end of it! Plus, we’re in this thing together, and there’s responsibility in that.”

Indeed, workout partners are accountable to and challenge each other and can even set workout goals as a team. There’s nothing like a “down” run day (when your feet feel like they weigh 50 pounds each), and you have that partner by your side urging you on and boosting your confidence. Plus, you know that one day your partner will need the same encouragement from you.

Workout partners should be of equal or slightly higher skill level than you.

My personal training client Margaret plays competitive tennis. At her urging, Margaret convinced her best friend and next-door neighbor to start training with her. Did I mention that the neighbor had never picked up a racket before? This is a recipe for disaster. Strangely, Margaret started playing “down” to her friend’s skill level and didn’t get the workout she wanted. Her friend steadily lost confidence (and interest) in playing with someone so advanced. It was a no-win situation and didn’t last long. I ended up finding Margaret a compatible workout partner. She needed someone who would challenge her, not give up easily and push her to raise the level of her tennis game.

Personal training partners should also be able to communicate clearly with each other. Just like the relationship between a client and a Fort Collins personal trainer, there needs to be an element of “tough love.” This requires honesty, commitment, and excitement about your workouts.

Finally, pick a workout partner with rose-colored glasses.

Do you have a friend who loves to complain? Choose a different workout partner. Stick with positive folks who can laugh in the midst of a torrential downpour a quarter of the way through your hill run. I have seen more than one group of personal training clients break up because of one person who complains constantly and the others either leave the group or ask the offender to leave.

Put an ad in a Fort Collins local newspaper, post a quote on the many Fort Collins gyms’ bulletin boards, and talk to friends. The benefits of working out with a partner are real! You will not only reach your goals quicker, but you will also have fun in the process.