When working out together doesn’t work out

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A couple exercisingHaving a workout partner can be a lot of fun: they can push you to your limits and provide motivation. Other times, it’s not so great: they create pitfalls in workout partnerships. Here are some situations when working out doesn’t work out, and how to deal with them.

1. You are at different fitness levels. A person who has been lifting weights long-term or who has a few marathons under their belt is not well-matched with someone who has never lifted weights or ran before.

  • It becomes monotonous to remove and replace the plates on a bar when there is a significant difference in strength.
  • It’s discouraging when you are out of breath before your fitness partner.
  • Alternatively, if you are the one with more experience, it becomes unproductive to spend time working out below your fitness level.

2. Misalignment of fitness philosophies. There is no shortage of fitness literature or experts to follow. One person may be sold on heavy-lifting Olympic-style workouts; others may be convinced that lighter weight with more repetitions is the way to go.

  • Your goal is to exercise, not have a debate.
  • This won’t be fun and you’ll spend more unproductive time in the gym than you had intended.

3. Your gym relationship is affecting your overall relationship. Working out with your romantic partner can be tough, especially if one person wants to lead the workout.

  • Most people don’t want to take that kind of direction from their partner.
  • Another challenging combo can be colleagues: while you might be great collaborating in the office, working out together can bring a different dynamic that affects your professional relationship when a difference in opinion or competitiveness arises.

4. Dependability is a factor. If you’re easily influenced by others, having your workout partner missed workouts regularly can be demotivating.

  • Your workout partner might be really busy with their job or might not be as committed as you are.
  • Waiting in the change room for a late workout partner isn’t fun when you want to dig into your routine and get home for dinner.

If you are nodding your head in agreement about any of these workout situations, here are some ways to take action:

  • Discuss your current goals and frame the conversation around those goals. If you are training for an event or have a certain milestone you are working towards, share this with your partner. Explain to them that this goal is important and that a new arrangement is necessary to those goals.
  • Continue to hit the gym together but do your own thing. A lot of couples do this, but friends can as well. You head to the weight room and your partner can take a class. Meet up again for a post-workout juice. This can help keep you motivated to get up and go, but you won’t have to worry about what happens during the workout.
  • Try something new and different for both of you. You can help each other out to learn a new fitness routine using a TRX home gym, or try something like swimming laps. If you are both starting from square one, it could be a fun way to cross-train or to try a new fitness trend.

By being honest with a workout partner that isn’t right for you, you’ll either go back to enjoying workouts solo or you’ll have made room for a new workout partner that provides you with the motivation and camaraderie that you are currently missing.


By Danielle Greenidge. Danielle’s foray in the fitness industry came on the heels of a significant weight loss. Overwhelmed with the information available during this journey, she studied fitness and nutrition, becoming certified as a personal trainer and holistic lifestyle coach. She has introduced many people to fitness and has led lifestyle classes, blending coaching with her passion for joyful movement to help clients design a fitness and nutrition plan that meets their goals.

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