A recent blog post and a recent study, although differing significantly in content, come to essentially the same conclusion: We have more of a chance of staying healthy when we partner with someone than when we try to go it alone.
The blog post, written by a sports writer and athlete for the popular Greatist website, notes that studies show working out with a buddy can increase accountability, keep spirits high during exercise, and spur better results. The post lists 35 great ideas for partner workouts. The study, a collaboration between the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and policymakers in the Canadian province of Manitoba, suggests that younger children learn about health from older children more effectively than from coaches and teachers. Researchers looked at a program called Healthy Buddies, in which older kids mentor younger ones about healthy foods, physical activity, and positive body image; elementary school children who took part in the program reduced their waist sizes and showed improvements in self-esteem.
Why should all this be important to you? Of course, as a fitness club or sports center owner or manager, you’re interested in retaining current members and attracting new ones. One way to do those things is to make workouts or practices fun. If science is proving it’s more fun for people to workout with a partner, it would behoove you to think of ways to foster partner workouts. If you don’t yet have classes designed to accommodate buddy exercise, it’s time to develop and offer some. And maybe it’s time also to experiment with new ideas: How about designating a weekly time slot for partner workouts in the cardio room? Anyone can come, and no one will be forced to work with someone else, but singletons who want a partner can ask others looking for the same if they want to pair up during that time, and duos can be encouraged to come. Trainers can be on-hand with ideas for buddy exercises.
Really, with the studies in hand that prove the effectiveness of partner workouts, there’s no limit to ideas you can try launching based on that information. And let your clientele know that you’re reading up on these studies and developing new ideas based on what’s best for them — that’s another good way to keep the members you already have and gain new ones.
As for the study about older kids mentoring younger ones for better health, this is information that will be useful to sports centers that cater to youth. Whether you specialize in baseball, soccer, track and field, or offer general athletic programming, why not start thinking about how older kids at your facility might be able to help teach younger ones? Can you offer one night of mixed-age practices, pairing elementary-schoolers with high-schoolers and letting the learning take off? This same strategy might work for fitness clubs too — not necessarily using age as a guide to matching mentors and mentees, but creating a program that would allow members who have successfully met their weight loss and exercise goals to mentor members who are still struggling. Doing so could only strengthen your community, and strengthening your community can only be good for business.