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Traver Boehm: Training Partner Key to Keeping Motivated to Work Out

But choose carefully to ensure it's someone with similar goals, intensity and style

“It’s so much better with two,“ said Pooh. Now Winnie the Pooh may not be the personification of athletic accomplishment, but he had the basics figured out fairly well.

When did working out become a solitary activity? I’m not really sure about the rest of you, but I went from being on two collegiate teams where training was fun and full of camaraderie to drearily working out by myself at Gold’s Gym in Redondo Beach.

One was inspiring, entertaining and something I actively looked forward to every day. The other was a drag that led to procrastination, demotivation and even skipping workouts.

When did the vast majority of recreational gym-goers decide to workout by themselves? And since when, if you’re female, are you virtually forced to avoid any kind of eye contact in order to further avoid unwanted attention from a guy in cutoff jean shorts and a spray tan?

Regardless of the time or the reason, the old paradigm of training by yourself is quickly dissolving. Gone are the days of the lone weightlifter, alone in a gym after hours, headphones on, sunglasses to boot, grinding through his workout.

There is power in human interaction, an “X” factor if you will, and never has this X factor been more important than the current day. All over the country bands of people are getting together to express themselves, and this holds true in fitness as well.

Today, if I decide to skip a workout I’m going to hear about it. I’m going to hear about it from my training partners. I’m going to hear about it from a number of people who rely on me to push them when they are down just as I rely upon them to push me when I think I’m slacking.

The above is a fancy and fun way of describing a term that has also been out of the exercise world’s nomenclature as of late — accountability.

Before opening Crossfit Pacific Coast two years ago, I lived here in Santa Barbara for a month by myself awaiting the arrival of my business and training partner, Eric, who was moving down from San Francisco. During this month, I, who am motivated enough to move to a town where I knew no one and start a fitness business, had to rely on myself for training motivation, training accountability and drive.

What do you think happened in my solo workouts? Do you think I pushed myself to the limit and made great gains during that month?

Well, it went a little something like this. I’d usually show up to the SBCC track with a workout written on a piece of paper and the best of intentions. The workout was usually four or five rounds of some combination of movements that I figured would take me 20 to 30 minutes.

» Round 1: Completed at full intensity (there are … um … women at the track after all).

» Round 2: I started thinking about how much working out alone was boring.

» Round 3: I usually started thinking about dinner and Family Guy.

» Round 4: I was usually walking back to my car with a promise to do all five rounds later in the week.

Does that sound familiar? If so, get yourself a training partner or a training group as soon as humanly possible. Not only will having another human being present enrich you in ways beyond your training, but also there’s no better form of accountability, drive and motivation than a like-minded partner.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing a workout partner or workout group.

» 1) Does your partner have similar training goals? If your goal is to get your marathon time under three hours and your training partner is after a 600-pound back squat, then maybe you’re not the best match. Choose someone who has similar goals to you, even if they are only six- to eight-week goals.

» 2) Does your training partner share your level of intensity? Personally I don’t need someone to get right in my face and scream at me to keep me motivated, nor do I like working out with a church mouse. Someone who falls between the two is perfect.

» 3) Do you trust your potential training partner both physically and emotionally? Let’s face it; if you’re training the way that you should be, then you’re going to have a lot of emotional peaks and valleys throughout your training cycle. You’re most likely going to have shared laughs, tears, body functions and the like. More importantly than that, you may also need to rely on your partner to spot you with dangerous weights and even perform some level of first aid on you.

Life is not a spectator sport, folks, nor is training, so chose whom you share both with wisely — but don’t go at it alone.

Have at it.

— Traver Boehm is co-owner and coach at Crossfit Pacific Coast, has a master’s degree in Chinese medicine, is a licensed acupuncturist at Alki Wellness, and a nutrition specialist. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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