Often, it’s easy to become solitary in your training regime. Sure, if you belong to a sports team or a running club you get that social connection. Perhaps, you ‘hit up’ local fitness classes – again a great way to add a social aspect to your training. What if you don’t have that? Or what happens if you want to extend all that into your gym training? Can you transfer that social aspect into the weights room without it being just small talk and procrastinating chit-chat? I say absolutely…
OK, so take my training a year or so back…For me, even as a personal trainer I still felt the gym was an intimidating place to be. I would shut myself off to the rest of the gym world. Part of me loved the fact that I could switch off (as the gym wonderfully allows for), pump my headphone volume up high, ignore the rest of the world, and get my sweat on. Now…every chance I get I’m training with others, discussing training methods, seeing new angles, learning, always. Training is all about ever-evolving tried and tested methods. We are constantly challenging yesterdays way of thinking about fitness. What better way to challenge your training than by picking the brains of others around you? Yes there is absolutely still a place for zoning out, you, yourself and I with training. Don’t get me wrong I still train alone a fair amount. However, what I have learned about training with my gym partner Tara (more on her below!) is that you have SO much to learn from your external gym environment. Even more from a training buddy, and you shouldn’t miss out on that.
If you’ve been following my social media channels you would have seen I have ‘a bit’ (read: A LOT) of an obsession with my training partner; Tara Margulies (aka @Qtara / dream gymnastic / strength / pole dancing / calisthenic queen). If you’ve had the chance to catch the two of us together (aka TwoToned) you would’ve guessed that we’ve been “bessie buds” for decades. The truth is that we’ve only really known each other truly for a year and a half or so.
Tara and I first met on a fitness shoot on location at a studio (where we both also happened to teach at the time) ‘Core Collective’ in London. We spent the whole day bantering off each other about anything and everything health and fitness. After which, we scheduled a ‘sweat date’ and our strength training fitness partnership began from there. I knew this girl had the same goals as me. I knew she had a whole tonne of knowledge. Could motivate me. Could inspire me. So to me it was a done a deal, why would I not go out of my way to schedule in training in with her? It just so happens that we also have a whole lot of fun whilst we do it. She’s now one of my best friends – not necessarily a prerequisite for a training partner but a nice bonus and consequence of hours together spent at the gym.
Tara is your go-to strength girl. She’s always lifted. Yes I have too, but mine was a more HIIT focussed, and a more endurance focussed way of lifting. Of course, I knew the importance of training in different phases. For the unfamiliar it’s basically where you program to lift either lighter weights for more repetitions more like the 15-20 range (endurance training) or heavier weights for less repetitions (strength training / hypertrophy) focussed. So enter Tara. I started lifting in a totally new light.
As a result of training with Tara I’ve seen not only strength gains, but I’ve transformed my body. Yes it’s a combination of what I learn everyday doing my job as a personal trainer, instructor and fitness model, but more than anything our partnership has been the biggest impact by far. What you get socially from each other is more than you can get from any book. We both teach each other different things. It’s not a one time short term learning fix either. Every day that I show up to training or message “T” I learn – we learn. I wouldn’t have that if I kept to my solitary gym ways. Of course, sometimes all I want to do is switch off and do my own thing but I am more mindful about looking further afield. I’m a completely different athlete because of our “TwoToned” team. We’re better together. You too can strive to be better by teaming up together with a gym buddy. Someone else to open up whole new levels of knowledge, motivation and inspiration.
A year and a half later I know I HAVE to show up to our scheduled training sessions. Maybe I don’t feel like going. Maybe I’ve lost my gym mojo. Maybe it’s cold outside. Maybe I have too much on. But do you know what? More than any of those easy excuses to make, as much as I don’t ‘feel’ like training, I know I can’t let Tara down. Not because she’ll get crappy about me bailing (she wouldn’t, she’d just be sad we didn’t get to hang out), but because we are a team. We need each other to succeed. 9 out of 10 times I will feel 100,000% better than when I walked in. I’ll get that ‘gym mojo’ back. I’ll remember…”heck yeah…I love training” and far sooner be on the “what was I bitching and whining about in the first place anyway?” train. And do you know what? I’ve probably smashed a higher weight or another pull up than last weeks set too.
Wherever possible we schedule at least 1 training session in together a week. We both teach classes at Equinox, so have the luxury of a gym to train at together. We send actual calendar invites to one another. Confirm it in out diaries. That doesn’t move. When they say think of your training like a scheduled meeting with your boss, it’s true. You wouldn’t cancel your boss. Don’t cancel on you. Don’t cancel on your training partner. Consistency is the single most important factor in reaching your goals. Introduce a training partner into the remit, one you can really learn from and one that you don’t feel intimidated by. One who will be there for you – consistently. Then there’s no stopping you both.
What you’ll also notice (or at least I did), is that your sessions will become a hell of a lot more fun. More interesting. Having someone there will fire you up, get you to push harder than you would yourself. It makes you accountable. It can also really help your form. You might not see those niggles in form that you’ve picked up from old habits training alone. Having a fresh pair of eyes on you, your body and your training. It can only bring better things. As a team we achieve more.
Before training with Tara I couldn’t do a single pull up. Now I can do 8-10 in a row (depending on how much we’ve been training them). I owe that to Tara. She had been in the exact same position as me when learning how to do pull ups in the past and could pass on her wisdom. She could inspire me that at one point, it WILL happen. We made it happen.
You can learn from a training partner or even just others at the gym. Is there someone you see regularly at your gym that seems to be doing a similar thing to you? Maybe you can spark a conversation. Maybe you meet that somebody in a gym class and you can try and plan a workout – doesn’t necessarily have to be at a gym. You just have to be open to it. Be approachable. Start conversations you might not have done before. Give that mate a kick up the butt to start up wth you as she’s promised for all those times before.
See for yourself what you can achieve when you team up. Check out our ‘Two Toned’ buddy workout series that we filmed in partnership with Adidas UK (seen in the shots here). We’ve given you different exercises to allow you to compete (friendly competition is always a good thing!) as well as team up with each other to get stronger and faster. Remember to warm up, cool down and stretch. Take the workouts at your own pace. Give your buddy that extra push. If they look like they’re struggling shout at them to carry on. That they can do it. They will support you back. TOGETHER you will go further, be faster, be stronger all the while having a great time with one another.
All of our Two Toned workout videos are available on the Adidas Women Facebook page and on our Instagram handles. You can also find our TwoToned website here. Definitely check out my girl Tara’s blog too, it’s full of great information that a fellow fitty might need.
Till next time…go out and have a blast with your mate at the gym (no, seriously!) Enjoy!
Sending health and happiness,
Wardrobe: all Adidas UK
Photography: Nathan Gallagher
Location: Barbers Gym, Amhurst Terrace, London E8 2BT