Staying motivated in your training regime is a problem for every fitness enthusiast at some time or other. Over the years I’ve found that positive feedback is the key to continual progress; and there’s no better way to achieve that feedback than to have an interested, enthusiastic, and helpful training partner.
The best place to find a training partner is obviously the gym. But be careful not to rule out potential training partners prematurely. Just because someone doesn’t necessarily share the same interests as you, and/or use the same machines, or perform the same workouts; doesn’t mean that that person couldn’t make a successful partner. Sometimes, just being in the same room with someone you feel comfortable with, or jogging around the same course, can make a world of difference in your motivation levels. Despite all the people you find in clubs, it’s easy to feel uncomfortable and self-conscious if you don’t know anybody. Ask the club owner or manager to start a list of those who might like to have a training partner. They know the secret of keeping a "happy" gym (and thus happy customers) is interaction.
Your ideal training partner would, of course, share most of your interests and goals, and could work alongside you while performing similar exercises and routines; not to mention spot you during those critical lifts, and, of course, provide a good pat on the back afterwards. Keep in mind that positive feedback and motivation always travel best on a two-way street; and that frank and honest assessments of one’s talents are the only way to map the road to improvement.
The best way to get started in a fitness partnership is to first meet face to face and discuss your days, times, and availability; and general needs and goals. In case things don’t work out, just commit to a short trial period of maybe two or three workouts together, and don’t feel bad or hold grudges if things don’t work out. Good training partners can be hard to find.
You don’t have to be a member of a health club, however, to realize the benefits of having a good training partner. As mentioned earlier, positive feedback is the key, and shared interests definitely comes second. If you exercise at home, you might try asking your neighbors, close friends, or even family members if they’d like to come over and exercise with you. Even somebody who’s not particularly interested in performing exercise can be helpful once they’re educated in the forms of good technique, pace, and body positioning. Funny thing usually happens to people once they learn the fundamentals of weight-lifting and training though-- they can’t wait to jump in and try it. Next thing you know, you’ve got a training partner.
Motivation can be a slippery substance when the mirror is your only source of it. Whether you weight train, do aerobic dancing, jog, walk, bike, play a racquet sport, or whatever; having a good training partner can be an invaluable tool in your own self-assessment and progress, and just might lead to great lifetime friendships.
Dear John: "I want to join a health club, but I’ve heard so many stories about people getting ripped off. What should I look for in a gym?"
A: I can recall hearing plenty of horror stories about health clubs being bankrupted overnight-- literally vacated in the middle of the night, and members never being warned. This is obviously a worse case scenario, but it does happen. A lot of clubs, especially smaller ones, have a tough time surviving. If you visit a club during the usual "busy" times like early morning and/or early evening, note how many people are there. If it’s consistently empty, that’s a red flag, and I wouldn’t go out and buy a lifetime membership.
Getting ripped off from a larger club with a good member clientele is far less likely. Aside from member fees, large clubs generate substantial revenue from special events like seminars and competitions; and the sales of fitness apparel, support gear, vitamins, food, beverages, and personal training services. Many of these clubs also fully operate or sublease therapeutic services including physical therapy and massage, and might also offer tanning and grooming salons.
As far as specifics, I’d ask the manager when the club opened and how many members they have. These are casual questions which you shouldn’t be apprehensive in asking. Also ask how old the equipment is, and inspect the club for cleanliness. Chances are if the club is messy, the equipment is probably also not well maintained. Overall appearance can clue you in to the owner’s attitude about his club, and, ultimately, how serious he or she is about keeping it up and running. However, don’t necessarily judge a club on whether or not it has all the latest gadgets. Over-investment in giant-screen TVs, treadmills that talk to you, and other glitzy devices, doesn’t assure anyone of getting and staying fit. Look for modern, practical, simple and effective workout equipment, and facilities you feel confident you’re going to use.
Dear John: "I was checking out the exercise/fitness section in the bookstore and was bewildered by the choice. Can you recommend one or two books for general reference?"
A: There are plenty of great fitness authors out there who have written some great books, many of them women. Joyce Vedral is one such fitness guru who has several books which you’ll find beneficial. Cory Everson and Rachel McLish are two other outstanding experts as well; and they have books which prove it. For men, Arnold Schwarzenegger has several books with different target groups, ranging from the beginner to the hard-core bodybuilder. And just so happens, (ring drawer here), I’ll have a book out soon, that will be published by Puttnum Publishing Company, and should be out by Spring 1997. I won’t disclose the name just yet, but I can guarantee that it will change lives for the positive, and make people healthier, happier, better looking, and better performing.