Depending on what your motivation may be, working out by yourself can suck. Royally. On the other hand, certain activities that I train in, like meditation, learning a new karate form or burning off steam on a punching bag, can work quite well when I’m alone. But it stands to reason that having a partner when you break a sweat can have some measurable, noticeable and unexpected benefits.
When I first started the martial arts, I felt exposed. I’m sure some of you have been there; you walk into an environment where EVERYBODY knows more than you do. Potentially. So even though you happen to be standing at the back of the class, you feel like everyone’s eyes are on you, judging you, watching you excessively sweat and gasp for air as they go through the motions barely showing any effort… Nah? Just me? Whatever… let’s carry on…
According to an online article I found on NBC News of all places, working out in a group has the benefit of others’ healthy habits rubbing off on us. The article states that a 2016 study found that “overweight people tend to lose more weight if they spend time with their fit friends […]” Which can certainly make sense if all the time you spend with said “fit friends” happens to be at spin class, yoga, zumba, cycling and etc.
Certainly, there is a great deal to be said for the accountability factor, where it’s more difficult to skip the workout when it’s part of a pre-organized program with others. And you inevitably end up kicking your workouts into high gear in order to accommodate and keep up with others who are doing the same. The above-linked article touches on these aspects as well.
All of this can certainly be true of karate. After those first few classes, I found myself pushing hard to keep up with the other students. Karate is one of those “keep up or be left in the dust” environments where you’re totally free to move at your own pace, but eventually it just won’t be enough. But the camaraderie that develops once you start holding your own is particular. It’s one of the aspects I most enjoy within the dojo.
Ultimately, working out with a friend or loved one doesn’t just keep you accountable through fewer skipped workouts. It can also encourage you to try out new exercises or activities you may not have thought of and may encourage you to push harder in order to keep going. Surprisingly, you may even catch yourself working out for longer periods as you’ll discover something other than fitness. You’ll discover that working out with a partner is fun.
My wife and I occasionally enjoy some fitness circuits together. She’s a champ and is always a good sport, no matter what I throw at her. I enjoy it a great deal, because it not only helps her to stay fit and get the blood pumping, it also allows me to include her in an important aspect of my life. So working out with your spouse is very important. It doesn’t have to be an all-out sweat storm that flattens you for the next couple of days; I rather save those for my friends whose suffering I enjoy (looking at you, Jayden!).
In closing, working out with a partner can also ensure your safety. If you happen to be doing something like lifting heavy weights or hiking in a remote area, having someone with you can ensure that you’ll have immediate help should something go wrong, which can be an important aspect if you happen to have Diabetes and suffer a low at an inopportune time. Not to mention that a little healthy competition amongst friends or loved ones is never a bad thing. So get out there and challenge yourselves. The only limits are the ones we set ourselves. ☯