Most of us that go to the gym will fall into one of these 2 caregories:
- Headphones in and solo-train
- Train with a friend
Is either approach necessarily better though? Is a gym partner that important ingredient you are missing, or the thing that is holding you back?
If you’ve been going to the gym for a while now it’s more than likely that you’ve sampled one or two gym partners – maybe you’ve even found one you like.
For many people a gym partner is ideal. For example, if you compete in athletic competition a team mate of yours is likely to be close to your level with an almost identical training plan. This makes them perfect to train with!
Or maybe you’re a student living with a number of flatmates? The chances are that out of those people you can find someone who wants to train and probably has a similar timetable to you!
Unfortunately we don’t all have this luxury – what if instead you’re married with a few kids and a 9 to 5 job? Well you can see that would make any sort of schedule commitment difficult.
No one in their right mind will tell you either way that you absolutely need or don’t need a partner in the gym. There are positives and negatives of both training alone and as part of a group, but just because something isn’t necessary, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile.
I mean think about it logically, if nothing else a partner is going to help you with lift offs, not to mention it means you don’t have to ask someone you’ve never met to spot for you.
The significant plus of a gym partner isn’t having someone to spot you though, it’s the encouragement that they bring. It’s amazing how what you thought was your best can change when you train with someone else! They push you to do that extra rep, that extra set or that extra weight.
If you train solo it’s far too easy for the less committed of us to take a day off, but if you’re responsible for a friend as well it might not be quite as easy to jeopardise their progress too, right? That being said, you really don’t want guilt to be the main motivator for the time you spend in a gym.
Like I say though, it’s not like that without a partner you’re on a slippery slope to failure. Some people just prefer to stick a set of headphones in and go out to smash a workout. After all you’re in the gym to train and it’s far easier to focus when you work individually.
That line between a helpful partner and a socialising buddy can appear awfully blurred at times too. Other people can prove to just be a distraction making your job a lot harder. The one thing you need to remember is that time in the gym is time for work – you aren’t there to have a catch-up with friends, you’re in pursuit of your goals!
I can’t give you the answer, I don’t know you. Maybe you work better when you get your head down and focus, or maybe you benefit from the support and encouragement of someone you trust.
If you do opt for a gym partner the relationship will usually mimic that of a teacher and student. It’s unlikely you’ll find someone at your exact level so it’s only natural that one of you will assume the role of the teacher as you train.
This isn’t a problem, but try to make sure that gulf in ability isn’t too big! If it is you risk the teacher having a lack of a push to achieve more and the student becoming discouraged as they realise how far behind they are.
Anyone that says you need to get a partner, or that you need to get rid of one, is wrong. In the end you need to evaluate your own performance and decide whether it’s being improved by having someone there with you, or whether it might be best to try going it alone.