It doesn’t matter whether you haven’t worked out since 1991 or whether you are a regular, how your fitness journey starts will be with a healthy dose of motivation. Some of us are fabulous at self-motivating ourselves, we can catapult out of bed in the morning and sprint for the gym. Others need more help to get going and keep going.
Taking part in regular activity in order to boost your fitness is in some ways like giving up smoking. It’s good that you know that your current lifestyle is unhealthy (very in the case of smoking) but this realisation needs to be coupled with a real desire to do something about it. People who have given up smoking will tell you that it’s only when they really wanted to give up, that they succeeded. The same often applies to those wanting to enjoy the benefits of a healthier, more active lifestyle. Wanting it is great, although sometimes you still need an extra push or an accountability partner.
What is an Accountability Partner?
A term coined in the 1990s in business as well as in other sectors, an accountability partner is basically someone who helps you to keep a commitment. From a fitness perspective it is a fitness buddy but not just a friend who trains with you to encourage you to come along. An accountability partner is invested in your success and coaches you as opposed to sending you a light-hearted abusive text to get you to meet them at the pool.
How Does an Accountability Partner Help You?
Some people struggle when it comes to regular commitments. They get frustrated quickly when success isn’t forthcoming. They forget to check their goals and the progress they’ve already made. Some people give up easily, often because of a lack of self-esteem. An accountability partner helps to combat all of these negatives, helps you focus on the positives and urges you forward. For some people, an accountability partner can be the difference between success and giving up on their fitness journey.
There are many people willing to be your fitness buddy however you need to find someone that is on your wavelength and who you know will spur you on. For example, your best friend may not be your ideal accountability partner if they will see you having a rough day and suggest you skip training this once because you clearly need a break. Their intentions will be pure however they may not be the best person to help you take responsibility for your own success.
For some people, having a personal trainer doubles up to provide a fabulous accountability partner. They understand the need for persistence, how to motivate and your routine inside out. If you attending your sessions each week, or every few days, depending on your schedule with them, is enough of a “check in” to keep you on track, great. If you’re needing more of a daily reminder and support it might be worthwhile looking elsewhere for someone who can keep you going when you aren’t “in the zone” with your PT.
Forums, FitBit Friends and Online “Buddies”
Do you need to know your AP personally and see them physically? Some would say yes, while others might say no. Everyone’s journey is different. Online “friends” can be great at helping you stay accountable, particularly as they aren’t really friends and therefore that relationship doesn’t cloud the accountability connection. Of course, it pays to be careful what information you give to someone you know online only (for safety’s sake) however if you are someone who is happy to log on and report in / contact your partner regularly it could work. You may be each other’s accountability partners, you may not. You just need to find someone you know will help you succeed.
Ask Your Personal Trainer to Find You and Accountability Partner
Some PTs will be able to pair you up with someone they know who is a like-minded individual able and willing to be your accountability partner and whom could possibly see you as a suitability AP for yourself. There’s no harm in asking.
At the Gym
The place you are most likely to find someone who understands the need for motivation and accountability is somewhere where other people are also working on their fitness goals. Some gyms may help pair you up or you might meet people there who are willing to support you. Some gyms have a rota (as such) of APs who are happy to support newcomers or even those who have been training for a while yet needing that extra push to keep going.
Asking a friend can be a great idea IF they understand that they are going to have to play hardball with you. On one hand, they will know and understand you better than someone you don’t know (and so will know what gets you going, and recognise when you are really flagging) and yet, on the other hand, they may be “soft” on you because they are a friend. You need to make sure you choose someone who will keep you on your toes!
Share the Success!
Has having an accountability partner worked for you? Have you been one and seen a positive effect on your workout buddy? If so, shout about it! Tell people how well it works. While the buddy system isn’t a new concept there hasn’t been a specific movement as such to support it however, these days, people are taking the idea and quite literally running with it.
If you remember how much you struggled with motivation once over and how having someone to report in to helped to get you off your backside and moving again, just think about how much someone else might benefit!