How to Boost Your Fitness Success with an Accountability Partner

Accountability Partner

No matter how motivated you are to get in shape, there will always be a reason to skip a workout on any given day: You’re too tired. You worked late. Your favorite gym shirt is in the wash. We all do it because self-motivation will only get us so far.

But there’s one thing that can help you table the excuses and stay on track: an accountability partner.

What Is an Accountability Partner?

An accountability partner is someone who will team up with you to make sure you’re sticking to your fitness routines and working to reach your goals, and vice versa. You will commit to encouraging, supporting, and inspiring each other along your workout journeys—checking in on each other’s progress and providing motivation in times of weakness.

Why Are Accountability Partners Effective?

A big reason people give up on their goals is that they have no consequences when they quit. But with an accountability partner, you know someone else is watching you—making it more difficult to slack off. And if you have a responsibility to help another person, you’re more likely to honor that commitment and uphold your end of the bargain.

How Do I Choose an Accountability Partner?

An accountability partner isn’t the same as a gym buddy. You’re not looking for a bestie to chit chat with while you work out—you want someone who will truly hold you accountable and keep you on track. You don’t even have to know them beforehand or meet with them in person, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Try reaching out to your social media networks or using sites like Meetup.com and CoJourn.com. You’ll want to find someone who is equally motivated with similar goals, and preferably someone close to your fitness level (as opposed to someone who’s running marathons when you’re trying to run a mile a day).

How Do I Create an Effective Accountability Partnership?

There are a number of ways to make your partnership a success, but they involve a bit of structure.

  1. Establish ground rules. To make sure you’re both on the same page, you’ll want to agree on things like how often you’ll communicate (at least daily is best), how you’ll communicate (text, app, email, phone), and if you want tips and guidance or simply motivation.
  2. Set goals. Decide exactly what you’re working toward: Do you want to lose 20 pounds? Run an 8-minute mile? Tone your muscles? Whatever your goals, try to make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based), and then share them with your partner so they can help steer you in the right direction.
  3. Get organized. Consider using some kind of tracking system to document your workouts and progress. You could use something simple like Google Docs in addition to connecting on your fitness app of choice.
  4. Create rewards and consequences. This isn’t an essential step, but having real, tangible consequences (and rewards) can add an extra motivation element. And they don’t have to be serious—maybe if you miss a workout, you owe your partner a cup of coffee or an embarrassing picture. Or, if you exceed your monthly goal, you could reward yourself with a little something special, like getting a manicure or renting a movie you’ve wanted to see.
  5. Communicate. It’s important to be in touch often with your partner. And when you do check in with them, make sure to be honest. Did you really finish your whole workout? Did you give 100%? Do you just want to watch Netflix instead of running tonight? Being honest will help your partner give you exactly the kind of encouragement you need.
  6. Be a good partner. Put as much effort into your partnership as you want to get out of it. Take the time to get to know your partner and learn (or ask them) how they prefer to be challenged or motivated. Do they want gentle reminders or tough love? Try to give as much feedback as you get and change your approach as needed to help them meet their goals.

At the end of the day, try to keep it positive. It’s a delicate balance between being inspirational and being hard on each other’s mistakes. Good fitness habits can be difficult to create, but having a truly supportive partner can help you build them faster. And hey—you might even walk away with a new friend.