Getting yourself to the gym is one thing, motivating a friend is quite another.
We all that one friend who we know would benefit greatly from going to the gym, if we could just convince them of it. Maybe this friend is going through a breakup and super depressed, or dealing with health issues that would be much less serious if they exercised regularly, but regardless of the reason, it is a tricky thing to motivate someone to go to the gym if they don’t want to.
There is something to be said for letting people live their own lives, especially when it comes to fitness. There is also something to be said for offering creative solutions to your friends’ problems, and the gym is something that can benefit anyone, no matter who they are.
Aside from the physical aspects, getting exercise releases happiness hormones in the body and gives you a sense of accomplishment, so I would say the mental and physical benefits of exercise are equal.
READ MORE: Fitness Fears and How to Work Through Them
But if going to the gym isn’t really even on your friend’s radar, it can be a difficult thing to get them in the right headspace.
Here are a few ways to ease into the idea, without losing a friend in the process.
Start by doing something simple and physical with them. Even if it’s just a weekly walk around the block to catch up, getting your friend doing something physical will immediately show them some of the benefits of fitness.
Ask them to go with you, and hold you accountable. Sometimes taking the blame for something is the easier route. If your friend is on the fence about going, tell them you could really use someone to keep you in-line. Doing it together will make it more fun for the both of you.
Take them shopping with you to buy fitness apparel. One of the main reasons people don’t want to hit the gym is they are concerned about how they look. Asking your friend along while you buy fitness apparel will make them more likely to try some on too, and put them in the mindset of someone who takes fitness seriously. They also might discover that they don’t look bad at all, which is a great motivator on its own.
Plan a fun trip, or suggest a pre-trip workout regimen for you both. Planning a trip to somewhere warm is a great way to encourage a ‘bikini-body’ fitness regimen. Or, if you already have a trip on the books, suggest working out together in the weeks beforehand. Once good workout habits are established, they are easier to return to after some time away.
Sign up for a fun class together. The easiest way to sneak your friend into the gym is to sign up for a fun class together. Gyms these days offer all kinds of interesting classes, from aerial yoga, to silent disco cycling. If you can get your friend to go to one of these classes with you (even on a dare) they are much more likely to start wondering what else the gym has to offer their lives, and their overall health.
And now for a few DON’TS:
Don’t use guilt as a bargaining tactic, don’t offer your friend unrealistic expectations about their fitness journey, and above all, don’t flat-out tell your friend that you think they need to start going to the gym. That job is reserved for their soon-to-be ex-husband, or nobody at all.
At the end of the day we don’t want to judge our friends, but we do want to uplift and motivate them. Let that be your mindset, and you should be just fine.
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