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Fit for Life: Pairing up to improve workouts

Everything we do on the fire ground is with a partner and our workouts should be no different. Having a partner will help keep you motivated and hold you accountable to continue your workouts regularly. Finding the right person to be your workout partner is not as easy as it sounds. Consider the following factors when choosing a workout partner: time available; similarity of workouts; accountability; level of motivation; talkativeness; and similarity of goals.

July 18, 2008
By Aaron Brouwer

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Everything we do on the fire ground is with a partner and our workouts should be no different. Having a partner will help keep you motivated and hold you accountable to continue your workouts regularly. Finding the right person to be your workout partner is not as easy as it sounds. Consider the following factors when choosing a workout partner: time available; similarity of workouts; accountability; level of motivation; talkativeness; and similarity of goals.


Time available

Find a partner who works on a similar schedule as you do; this will allow you to set regular workouts and reduce the possibility for cancelling appointments. Your partner needs to be reliable. Don’t choose a partner who is regularly late, as that wastes your time. A partner should be someone who calls to let you know when he is running late or if he can’t make the workout – nothing is more frustrating than waiting around for your partner and wasting valuable workout time.


Similarity of workouts

Having a partner who is doing similar workouts will help keep both participants on the same time frame – one partner won’t finish early and have to wait for the other to finish. If you can find someone who will lift the same levels of weight this will cut down on overall time, as there will be no wasted time changing weights. Choose a partner who is on the same level as you; if you are a beginner don’t pick a partner who is an expert, as you will become frustrated because you can’t keep up and may eventually quit.  Choosing a partner who is at a similar level will keep both partners motivated and give both of you  more out of your workouts.

Accountability
Your partner has the right to force you to go, that is his job. By asking someone to be your workout partner you are giving him permission to keep bugging you to get to the gym no matter how many times you turn him down or how lazy you may feel. 


Level of motivation

Make sure your partner is just as motivated as you are; pick someone who you know is motivated and committed to working out. If you are all gung ho and your partner is laid back you will become frustrated with your workouts; you are more likely to become laid back than to convert your partner to be gung ho.  Choose a partner who has a positive attitude – remember you are trying to increase your strength or cardio and don’t need someone being negative around you to bring you down.


Talkativeness

Choose a partner who understands that you are at the gym to work out and not to socialize. Your partner’s job is to motivate you during the workouts and keep you accountable for your attendance, not to distract you with chatter. There is plenty of time outside workouts for chit chat; you don’t need a partner who turns an hour workout into a two-hour event with chatter. Don’t pick someone who doesn’t say anything either – you need a partner who will motivate you to push through those last reps. 


Similarity of goals

Don’t just work out for the sake of working out – set attainable short-term and long-term goals to work toward. Find a partner who has similar long-term goals (for example, passing a fire department physical test, competing in the FireFit combat challenge, etc). Nothing motivates more than turning everything into a competition. By setting similar short-term goals (increasing bench press by 20 pounds, running seven laps in 12 minutes) you can add a little competition between you and your partner. Competition will provide more motivation to keep your workouts going and push you to work harder so you can beat your partner. As you try to beat your partner he will be trying the same thing; this will push your drive and intensity up during your workouts. A little competition never hurts. 

A partner can be a different age and a different gender. It doesn’t matter whether your partner is male or female or 25 or 45, as long as the partner can motivate you to work out. That’s all that matters. Although age and gender doesn’t matter when it comes to choosing a workout partner, it is extremely important that your partner is strong enough to spot you for all your exercises. 

Having a partner will help motivate you through your tough workouts. A partner can spot you to get one more rep in without worrying about dropping the weight.  Finding the right partner may take some time but once you do you will see immediate results as you will miss fewer workouts and your workouts will become a lot more intense as your partner encourages you to push harder. 

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford
Aaron Brouwer is a firefighter with Prince George Fire Rescue in B.C. and in an hand-on training instructor with Canwest Fire. Contact him at ff_brouwer@hotmail.com


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