Get Fit with a Friend!
Did you know that: people who have healthy friends tend to weigh less on average, and friends who meet for exercise classes have a much higher percentage of showing up more often, and couples who work out together stay healthy and stay together?
There are many reasons to grab a workout buddy and get fit. Having someone to workout with challenges you to push yourself further. When you know you are meeting a friend for a class or workout, it’s less likely you will back out. Friends help motivate us, keep us going, and give us a support network. Friends also keep us accountable so we can’t skip our workouts. Exercising with someone else helps the time go by quicker too! I personally love to take yoga class with one of my best friends, go for jogs, bike rides or skiing with my husband, and do a Pilates duet on the equipment with a fellow Pilates colleague.
My husband definitely pushes me to run a little faster, cycle up hills I would normally walk my bike up, and ski down runs that I wouldn’t think possible. My girlfriends remind me that every body is different and we all have unique skills we are each good at. It’s helpful to work out with someone and to highlight each other’s strengths, while pushing each other to improve our weaker areas. Boyfriends, husbands, friends, work colleagues, etc., can help us go a little deeper and/or last a little longer when performing partner poses or exercises.
Here are some of my favorite partner exercises to do. If you and your friend meet for a jog, add these at the end. Or grab your spouse in between commercial breaks and get toned and fit together, instead of sitting on the couch all night long. Be creative and use each other to get the most out of your workout. Connecting over exercise releases feel good endorphins so you can develop stronger bonds with your mates. I took these photos with my friend and colleague, Laura Kovall, who runs the Manhattan Fit4Moms workouts. We did these at the end of a class together on a beautiful fall day in Central Park.
For the partner squat, stand facing each other and grab hold each other’s wrists holding tightly. Walk back until both arms are completely straight. Sit back at the same time in to an imaginary chair then stand up. Holding on to each other allows each person to sit back deeper and really activate the buttocks more. It’s also a great way to keep good form and proper posture when squatting back, the chest stays open and lifted instead of sinking forward.
Another partner exercise that’s great is the oblique ball pass. Stand back to back, one person holding a medicine ball (or any weighted ball). The person holding the ball turns to their right and passes the ball to their partner who then quickly turns left and hands it back to the first person. Continue passing in a circular direction 20 times then stop and pass in the opposite direction. This exercise really works the oblique muscles and helps with speed, agility and hand/eye coordination.
Push-Ups with high fives are an awesome way to get in shape together and celebrate! Each person gets in to a push-up position facing each other. After performing a push up at the same time, high five each other each using the same hand (so diagonally across the body). Continue alternating hands after each push-up and try to perform 15-20. If too challenging you can drop to your knees.
A great partner stretch is Partner Paschimottanasana or seated forward bend. Sit up tall, back to back with legs straight out in front of each person. Then one partner lies back gently on top of the other person as he or she bends forward in to a seated forward bend. Hold 5 breaths, then come up and switch sides. The person in forward bend gets a great hamstring stretch and the person lying back gets a great stretch across their chest and upper and lower back.
After or before a workout together, it’s a great idea to spend some time going through each other’s goals and progress. It is also a really nice way to just catch up with a friend, partner or colleague. Share your success with a pre or post workout smoothie to keep each other on track nutritionally as well. Be creative and treat each other from week to week. Especially now as the temperatures cool and the holiday seasons approach, it’s awesome to have a buddy to keep us on track!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!