In need of some fitness motivation? Enlist a friend to keep you company. I believe having a “workout buddy” can be one of the most motivational tools for fitness. It’s someone to hold you accountable to be somewhere or to do something…there’s something about human instinct that makes us want to please others and not let them down (so why not use that instinct to your advantage?)

I have a few workout buddies. I love walking the Cooper River Bridge here in Charleston, SC and I have a couple girls that I try to make a regular date with each week to do it. I also just recently met a sweet girl at work that is fitness-minded like me and we found out we go to the same gym, so we actually met up yesterday to hit the treadmills together. I have a habit of talking myself out of the gym on the way home from work, but having told her I’d be there, I had no excuses…and no way was I going to ditch out on fitness in front of a friend!

Here are my tips for workout buddies:

1. Find someone whose fitness level is similar to yours. When you go for a run together, you don’t want someone whose idea of an “easy” run is 15 miles in under 2 hrs if you’re barely making it around the block without having to stop to walk. It’s best to have someone that can keep up with you and vice versa so you can push each other to reach similar goals. It’s fine to have someone a little more experienced in fitness to help motivate you to be your best, but if you get someone who’s too far ahead (or too far behind) of you, it’s going to take the fun out of it or cheat one of you out of a great workout.

2. Find someone who likes to do the same types of activities as you. If one of your friends’ idea of a great workout is 50 laps in the pool and you’d rather be doing a step class, you’re not going to find much motivation in each other. The goal of having a fitness buddy is scheduling activities together that you both like so you’ll both want to keep doing it.

3. Scour Living Social & Groupon for great deals on new fitness classes to try. These websites offer many steep discounts at upscale fitness studios that might otherwise cost you an arm and a leg for a package of classes. It can also be intimidating trying something new. So find a good discount and get a friend to sign up with you, then schedule the times that you can go together.

4. Have fun! You’ve got a fitness buddy – keep each other accountable, encourage each other, track your goals and keep at it!