“Let’s get together each week and walk . . . to the coffee shop.”
While it is better than driving, this isn’t the best kind of accountability partner to have if you’re trying to get more fit, especially if you can’t pass up that specialty coffee and mouth-watering pastry.
So, just what qualities should you look for in an accountability partner?
1. One with a similar work-/responsibility load (It’s good when our partner understands our availability and scheduling limitations.)
2. One who has similar fitness goals
3. One who is equally committed – or more so – to achieving those goals
4. One who is at approximately the same fitness level (If they’re too far beyond you, you might want to give up. If they’re too far “behind,” you might not challenge yourself.)
5. One who is a good encourager (It’s nice to have a cheerleader.)
6. One who won’t let you off the hook too easily (We all need a good swift kick on occasion.)
7. One who truly cares about us (Even when they give us that kick, we want to know they’re doing it for our own good.)
8. One with a positive outlook (I’m not talking about someone who never has a down day, but negativity and striving for good health don’t mesh well.)
9. One who is willing to touch base regularly – even when you can’t get together in person
10. One who is fun to be around (Getting fit is tough enough. Trying to do so with a stick-in-the-mud isn’t all that helpful.)
11. One who is willing to try new exercise routines or hiking trails (There’s nothing like boredom to make us want to pack it in.)
12. One who is willing to look silly trying new routines (It’s easier to laugh at ourselves if we have someone laughing at her-/himself right beside us. You should see me trying to follow a highly choreographed workout – or maybe you shouldn’t. [grin])
13. One who is willing to write down everything (s)he eats and exchange lists (If we know someone is going to look at our food intake for the week, it’s easier to say no to that cookie or piece of cheesecake.)
14. One who knows how to identify when you’re doing an exercise incorrectly (This is by no means necessary, but unless we’re extremely aware of how we feel when we do an exercise correctly, it’s great if our accountability partner can spot potential problems and help us correct them.)
This last one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s extremely important that we choose an accountability partner we enjoy spending time with.
Do you have a workout buddy and/or an accountability partner? What would you say is the #1 way (s)he helps you achieve your fitness goals? What is your favourite trait about your AP?
Stephanie Nickel, CLD, PTS is a freelance writer and editor, a labour doula, and a personal trainer.