Working Out with Friends and Why it’s Never Worked for Me

Monday, 12 September 2011 23:28 Written by  Priya A. Shah

While enjoying a weekend this summer with an old high school friend who was staying with me, I asked her if she wanted to go to the gym. Many friends of mine are eager to take advantage of being a guest at my gym, so I kept my fingers crossed that that she would shout YES at the top of her lungs and start doing cartwheels. I was lacking cardio that weekend. I hadn’t worked out in many days and had been filling my body with all sorts of crap. It was time to sweat a little and grab a handful of endorphins. Please say yes.

Please say yes.

“No,” she said. “But you can go if you want.”

Though I was disappointed, I realized that working out with friends has to be a mutual decision. Both parties have to be serious and dedicated and lean on each other for motivation. This is something I’ve learned to do myself. I can only depend on my when it comes to exercising. I have find the strength to go to the gym even when I really, really don’t want to. I have to be serious and not slack off.

“No, that’s okay,” I responded, realizing that it would be rude to head off to the gym and leave my guest alone. Even though I was feeling sluggish and knew that I would be eating more crap the rest of the time we had to hang out.

From personal experience, I’ve never had a lot of success working out with friends. In high school I wanted to start running with a friend one summer. Our intention was sincere, our attempt was unproductive. Working out with a friend is making a huge commitment, which can often be difficult. Our schedules don’t match, someone is either too tired, don’t have the time or the money. There is always a lack of commitment. This is why it never works out. Example: I receive a text at 10 p.m. from a childhood friend. Pri, you wanna go for a jog at 7 a.m. tomorrow?” I sigh. This same scenario had occurred multiple times over the years. This is how it usually goes. I receive a text. Then I wake up in the morning only to go back to sleep because the friend who suggested the jog is too tried or lazy or got called into work or just won’t pick up her phone. Don’t make unrealistic plans to workout.

There also may be some conflict in the type of exercise each friend prefers. While one prefers a run in the morning, another might want to go on the elliptical or jump rope or square dance (square dance?). When I attended a 90s themed cardio dance class with a friend this summer, though it was fun, it was awkward. I generally love taking classes but I could tell my friend was a bit uncomfortable doing some of the moves during this particular class. In this case laughing was my friend’s reaction when imitating awkward choreography.

I prefer to work out by myself than with friends (unless they’re really committed). But I know that a workout buddy is often very effective on many people.


Priya A. Shah

Priya A. Shah

Priya A. Shah lives in Chicago. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2010, where she studied magazine journalism and fiction writing. She has been a staff writer for GMO since 2007. She’s written and interned for various media outlets such as India Tribune, Today's Chicago Woman, Tribune Media Services, GlossMagazineOnline and Echo (the student produced magazine for Columbia College Chicago). She’s contributed to A Fresh Squeeze (, an online publication for green living in Chicago, and her school newspaper, The Columbia Chronicle.

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