What is a swolemate?
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I figured I’d do a little post about swolemates. What is a swolemate? Well, I like to think of it as a gym buddy, friend, and personal cheerleader all rolled into one glorious support system. I consider my husband my swolemate, but he doesn’t have to be. A swolemate doesn’t need to be someone you have a romantic relationship with. He or she could be a friend, co-worker, or someone you met in an online fitness community.
By now, you’re already thinking, “Jeez, she’s trying to turn the word ‘swolemate’ into something much more serious than the silly slang word it really is.” DAMN RIGHT, I AM. I really like the idea of a “swolemate” because it captures how important it is to have someone supporting you through a fitness journey. Someone who, though their journey might be different, can relate to what you’re going through. Plus, studies have shown that having a workout partner can result in you working out longer & more consistently.
You Don’t Have to Do It on Your Own
Until I met my husband, I was pretty adamant about working out alone and not sharing my fitness journey with anyone. Actually, even after I met him I was still pretty resistant to the idea of working out together. Once when we were dating, I got so anxious while starting to go on a run together that I literally ran away from him as fast as I could and shouted “I’ll meet you back at the car in 30 minutes!” While this story probably makes me sound insane, I think it makes him equally insane because he’s the dummy that stuck around me after that. I’m not sure if it’s because I spent years getting teased for being the slow one in gym class or if it’s just because I’m insanely introverted, but I get anxious doing anything athletic around people I know.
However, once I started letting him into my secret gym rat life, I realized how awesome it was to have someone share in my journey. We both have separate goals and we don’t always do the same workouts, but we’re able to support one another both figuratively and literally (ahem, spotter for bench). Over the years, I’ve also gotten plugged into a number of communities where I’ve found additional support, including support from a lot of badass lady lifters. Honestly, it’s awesome and I don’t know why I felt like I had to do it all on my own for so long!
Qualities of a Great Swolemate
Below is my Valentine’s Day gift to you all – a few attributes that define a great swolemate:
They encourage you to pursue your goals
This is a biggie for me. Having someone encourage you means that the recognize what you truly want to get out of your fitness journey. A good swolemate won’t pressure you to feel like you should be chasing after different goals than you currently are. He or she may have different goals than you, but they respect your goals and encourage you to chase after them. For example, you may be really into powerlifting and your best friend might be a runner. Your training schedules will likely look wildly different, but you can still be just as excited for her marathon that you are for your next USPA meet. At the same time, you’re not going to pressure one another to change training styles or feel bad about the goals you have.
They help keep you accountable
Most days of the week, my husband and I wake up at an ungodly hour to hit the gym before work. I don’t particularly enjoy morning workouts, but I’m self-aware to know that if I save a workout until after work, it’s just not going to happen. Friends often ask me how I stay motivated to
pop crawl out of bed at 5am. The truth is, knowing someone else is expecting me to be there makes me way more committed. Having someone meet you at the gym, especially someone you look forward to seeing, makes it easier to stay motivated. Just make sure it’s not someone who makes you feel *judged* for missing the gym! Shaming yourself into working out is never a good strategy.
They help pick you back up
You will fail. Sorry, but it’s true. At some point, you’ll hit a wall and start plateauing. Or you’ll get sick and lose some of your progress. You might even end up with an injury that sets you back for weeks. When you go through a tough time like that and feel like your goals are out of reach, it is really helpful to have someone there to help reassure you. Fitness takes as much mental work as physical and having a support system helps keep you mentally strong!
They provide a new perspective
While a good swolemate shouldn’t pressure you to change your goals or routine, a good swolemate will give you a fresh perspective. He or she can help watch your form and spot things you might not notice yourself. A swolemate might introduce you to a new exercise, share a favorite recipe, or send you a new study he/she read. You both can provide each other with more information than you’d normally be exposed to otherwise.
They make fitness fun
No matter how much you love working out, there are days that are going to stuck. Having someone with you that can make you laugh or simply distract you with interesting conversation can make a huge difference sometimes.