New York Times
Seeking Workout Partner for Hot and Sweaty Fun
WHEN Kendall Williams, a 36-year-old writer in Manhattan, decided to start running regularly, he posted a call for partners in crime on Craigslist. He wanted something specific: fellow joggers to meet him near his Upper West Side apartment at 6:30 a.m. several days a week. Four women who live within blocks answered his platonic ad, and for a few months, they ran 10- to 12-minute miles. Read More...

Austin American Statesman
In It Together

As compulsive as I am about exercising (and there's a reason my husband calls our house Swim Freak Central), sometimes sleeping an extra hour or using my noon break to actually eat lunch sounds so appealing. Most days, I have a swim team practice to attend. I've paid for it, and I know how happy it'll make me once I'm there, churning through the water and trying to do whatever my coach dreams up. So I get up and go. But the team takes Tuesdays off, and it would be oh-so-easy to blow off my workout that day. Thanks to Brian Vance, my official Exercise Buddy, that rarely happens.

Last spring, Vance, a 56-year-old financial consultant, began training for the La Jolla Rough Water Swim, a 3-mile ocean race in California. He wanted to get in a long, unbroken training swim at least once a week, on top of the three to five practices he catches with his team. Vance and I used to train together and are about the same speed. Because I get twitchy if I don't swim or water ski almost every day, I decided to tag along to keep him company.

Now we've got a standing date every Tuesday. No way I'm going to slack off if I know he's counting on me to show up. It's permanently scheduled on my calendar. We only miss if one of us is out of town or sick.

For the first time this year, we swam through the winter at Barton Springs. Without my exercise buddy, I wouldn't have done it. But I knew Vance was counting on me. And if he could jump in that 68-degree water in the middle of February, so could I.

"It makes all the difference," Vance says of having an exercise partner. "If I didn't have that, it wouldn't get done."

Our relationship illustrates something I've always known - that you're much more likely to stick to an exercise program if you've got someone to exercise with. The social aspect is what makes grinding out miles on the trail or doing aerobics enjoyable. It's more than 60 minutes of cranking out intervals - it's a chance to catch up with people with whom you might not otherwise hang out. Having a buddy to share the fun (and, sometimes, the misery) keeps motivation high. And there's even a Web site to help you find the right exercise buddy.

Take rowing buddies Nancy Pierson , 50, and Oliver O'Bryan, 60. They met while rowing an eight-person boat together, but have teamed up to row a two-person boat for the last three months. Three to five times a week, they meet at the Texas Rowing Center on Town Lake and take off for a muscle-mashing, 90-minute tour of the river.

"It's like rowing a high-performance vehicle. The result of a bad stroke is disastrous; the result of a good stroke is bliss," Pierson says.

Even more so than in swimming, partners are critical in rowing. If one doesn't show up, the boat can't go out. Knowing that Pierson is depending on him motivates O'Bryan, who says he has a "sort of innate inertia." Once he's at the dock, that inertia quickly turns to enthusiasm.

"It's very easy for me to follow Nancy," says O'Bryan, a business manager for a doctor. "We have a natural rhythm together."

On the water, O'Bryan determines the boat's direction; Pierson sets the pace. Together, they strengthen their bodies along with their friendship.

"I just like rowing with Oliver because I like Oliver," says Pierson, who teaches bowen, a form of therapeutic body work.

O'Bryan likens it to a sort of marriage. "But without all that other stuff," Pierson quickly adds.

For some women, pregnancy provides a convenient excuse to quit exercising. Not so for Tzatzil LeMair , 35, owner of the Tough Cookies Don't Crumble training program, and Ivonne Mercado, 38, who manages translations for Harcourt Inc. publishers.

"We've been friends for over eight years and made a pact that if we got pregnant again, we wouldn't let each other get too fat and out of shape (as we both did before)," LeMair says. Now that both are pregnant - LeMair with her fourth and Mercado with her third - they meet every Friday for a combination run/walk on the Barton Creek greenbelt or the Town Lake hike-and-bike trail.

"If you don't have somebody, you won't do it," Mercado says.

"If there's no accountability, other things get in the way," LeMair says. "It's too hot, I'll do it later - it just doesn't get done. If you don't have a training partner waiting for you, you have this inner dialogue, and you know who's going to win."

The key is not thinking of it as work, or something you have to do. "That's how Cookies started," LeMair says. "The basic (premise) is that exercise needs to have a social aspect. It takes away from your free time, so it has to be fun."

The Friday meetings provide time for Mercado and LeMair to catch up on how their pregnancies are progressing. They hope to keep meeting until their babies are due in the fall.

After that, they'll help each other get back in shape.

Vance and I socialize at our weekly swims, too. It's a chance to hear what's going on in his life and to share what's on my mind. The workout almost becomes a happy side benefit. It's worked so well that I've collected a couple of friends to keep me running through the summer, too.

If you're trying to keep in shape on your own, you're setting an obstacle in your path.

Sure, you can get around it. But wouldn't it be easier not to have to try?

Republican American
Exercising With A Friend

I needed friends fast.     


So I sidled up to a street corner at 6 a.m. and waited for someone I met on the Internet. This is what my life has come to: blind dates with potential friends. I moved a few weeks ago, leaving my old running partners behind. I was on the hunt for new pals. I scouted out my new gym. I asked people who had friends or relatives in the area. I've stopped short of interrogating runners zooming past.

Then I found a Web site called, a sort of for the sneaker and tennis-racket set. Hence, my pre-dawn date. As I waited on the corner, several runners passed by. Each time, I anxiously raised my head from my fingers-to-toes stretch, anticipating my date. A few pick-up trucks stopped at the stop sign. I held my breath, fearful I'd fallen into a trap.

How stupid am I, I thought, agreeing to meet someone I'd only spoken to over the phone, this early in the morning. She had an indistinguishable accent  -  and an androgynous name. Clearly this was an abduction front. A guy with a mask will jump out of one of these trucks, throw a tarp over my head, and toss me in the back, I thought.

But my paranoia lasted all of two minutes. My new friend jogged up, out of breath, apologizing for being a few minutes late. She looked perfectly normal, so I didn't need to pretend I was waiting for someone else.

Thank you, But I didn't find my soul mate immediately. When I first logged on, I thought all my prayers would be answered. I popped in my ZIP code and looked through the candidates. I shot off a few e-mails, and eagerly waited. I envisioned my inbox packed with queries from interested friends within an hour. No luck.

Now I understand how stressful online dating must be. But what's a poor girl looking for active friends to do? is a great idea, but I don't think enough people know about it. Or there aren't enough nuts looking to meet strangers on dark street corners in 30-degree weather.

I tweaked my profile. Maybe I sounded stand-offish? Perhaps I shouldn't say I've run marathons. How about my average pace per mile  -  accurate? There was even a section for body weight.

Fibbing was tempting. But then I remembered I'm looking for a running partner  -  preferably FEMALE  -  not a life partner, or someone I need to impress with my measurements.

All right, I won't kid myself. I am looking for a life partner. Exercise is extremely important to me; unfortunately, it's not a passion my fiancé shares. So, I've come to treasure running as a time to bond with close friends. And since I lost so many great buddies when I moved, I'm  on the rebound.

Within hours of fine-tuning my profile, I scored a response. Gosh, she sounded perfect. Proper punctuation: check. Clear writing: check. Specific running schedule: check. Friendly: check. She gave me her number, and I couldn't dial fast enough.

She had me at hello. When she asked, "Do you ever use the Web site MapMyRun. com?" I swooned. When she gushed about some rail trails nearby, my heart skipped a beat. When she lamented a running partner who wasn't reliable, I knew I would never let her down.

Can anyone say Single White Female? I already had her address and home phone number.

Eerily, she was fitting the profile of a beloved running friend of mine. They are both vegan, have several pets and work for non-profits.

That friend used to live less than a quarter mile from my new home. She's now 50 miles away. I close my eyes and picture us jogging together every day, the sun rising on the beach, seagulls soaring above our heads.

But if all goes according to plan, I've replaced her. And a blind running date really is like a blind dinner date. After we wrapped up our jog, I asked my new friend if it was good for her. She said it was great. We talked about meeting up again.

The real indicator came a few hours later. I got an e-mail from her detailing how many miles we ran and our average pace  -  and a suggestion for our next run. If only real dates had such report cards.

This was better than flowers the morning after.


Dayton Daily
Your Friends Can Help You Meet Health Goals

Friends can provide a shoulder to lean on or spark sidesplitting laughter. They keep your secrets and share your life. But friends can also make your life better and healthier. Patient information published in the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants recommends exercise with a group or partner to help people stay on track. And the Mayo Clinic includes joining forces with friends, family, co-workers or neighbors as one of its fitness programs: 7 tips for staying motivated.

Becky Cobb, a certified personal trainer and co-owner of Personally Fit Personal Training and Wellness Center in Dayton, has seen firsthand the benefits of workout buddies for the past 25 years.

Exercise is like physical social networking, Cobb said. Committing to another person, whether it’s a friend, your spouse or a trainer, is an important step to get the ball rolling.

Buddy System

When Myra Michaels’ doctor suggested that the Kettering woman increase her exercise regime, the unofficial recruitment began for her exercise team. Within days, she had friends and family on board, walking with her and working out at the gym.

When you exercise with someone else, it pushes you, Michaels said. On the days you don’t feel like exercising and you get a phone call from your friend, you usually go.

It’s a familiar occurrence, Cobb said.

Part of human nature, especially in women, is to do something for someone else before you do something for yourself, she said. So if someone is asking you to exercise with them, it’s more likely that you will provide that moral support. But no matter who or what got you off the couch, you’ll be glad you did it. It’s positive peer pressure.

Michaels and Cobb concur that the quality of the workout will also be better and longer when you exercise with friends.

You’re having a lot more fun because you’re not just exercising, you’re spending time together, Michaels said.

And if your friend decides to do an extra set, you probably will too so you work out for a longer duration, Cobb said.


Gastric bypass surgery in 2003 was only the first step for Shane White.

Once weighing in at 340 pounds, White exercises to maintain his now 240-pound frame. It’s about more than appearance for the Dayton resident as there is a history of heart disease and obesity in his family.

White’s favorite way to burn calories is play. He currently plays in two softball leagues and a sand volleyball league. Winter means volleyball moves indoors.

For me, the motivation is knowing that other people are depending on me, White said. I’m not the kind of guy who can go out and run 5 miles; I need that social interaction.

From softball to ice hockey and bowling to basketball, there are a variety of leagues for all ages and experience levels in the Miami Valley.

I feel like I have more of a purpose because my teammates are counting on me, White said. It’s great motivation for those days when you don’t really feel like doing anything.

Personal trainers

Moral support doesn’t only come from friends and teammates. White also works with a personal trainer.

There are only a few places that I check-in on Facebook and the gym is one of them, he said. I want people to notice that I’m doing it and take me to task if they see that I’m not going.

From the very first day that Cobb opened the doors of Personally Fit 23 years ago, she has offered couples or friends a shared trainer option. It was more affordable for the clients and added elements of accountability, support and fun.

Those people who have a friend or a spouse to help keep them motivated, stay with the program longer, Cobb said. They cheerlead each other along.

Others who don’t have a willing friend to bring along can rely on their trainer to be that support person.

If nothing else, they have to pick up the phone and cancel the appointment if they aren’t going to show up and that gives them time to really think about it, Cobb said.

White agrees: If I paid for something, I don’t want to waste the money so I go.

Personal trainers might sound like a luxury. But with shared trainers and even group personal training options, the expense can be reduced significantly. Community recreation centers also offer personal trainers for as little as $30 an hour for residents, depending on location.

Beyond the fitness benefits

Friends might well be the ones to get you off the couch, but the benefits of the buddy system go beyond fitness.

If you’ve ever seen a group of women power walking, arms flying, you know they are venting big time, Cobb said.

It can be emotionally therapeutic to spend time with friends.

Cobb has also seen the value of fitness friends for seniors.

It’s like an extended family, she said. If someone misses a few walks or classes, their friends check up on them and make sure they are OK.

But what if your friends are not fitness fanatics? Sites like enable you to enter their ZIP code and find people in the area who are looking for someone to exercise with.


The service is free.

Marin Independent Journal
Exercising With A Friend

Now that fall has arrived, it's time to shift gears with your fitness. By subtly changing your weekly exercise plan as the seasons change, you'll get better results, while avoid frustrating "ruts" and "plateaus."

The human body follows precise rhythms throughout the year that have been shown to follow the seasons. Periodization is an exercise concept in which your year is divided into periods, each having a specific approach, based on weather conditions and how your body and mind are feeling, to produce the best results.

Fall is a tricky time when it comes to physical fitness because most people start easing into the holidays, warm comfort foods - and the soothing sounds of Monday night football. But, neglecting exercise and slunking into the couch to watch football for the next three months is a great way to get those larger, more gelatinous love handles you've always wanted!

Each week, I'll present a topic (healthy eating, finding the time, wellness, etc.) and I'll follow it up with specific workouts for the week.

Let's get it started.

Here are three things to think about when starting on your new program:

1. Change the scenery

Let's not kid ourselves: only a "chosen few" among us really love exercise and leap out the door at 6 a.m. yawlping: "Oh, yea! I love a nice jog on pavement in 44-degree weather!"

For the rest of us, we need to mix things up and make it as fun as possible to keep our heads in it. But, we rarely do. We tend to work out in the same places, in the same way, at the same pace ad nauseum, which does little for our bodies or our motivation.

While it's important to have a "routine," your workouts shouldn't feel routine. Over the next 10 weeks, strive to break out of your "workout rut." Seriously. Find new places to exercise. Enroll in new classes at the gym. Take up a new sport. Get some new workout buddies; log on to if you must. Freshen things up. It makes a big difference.

2. Make the time

Lack of time is often cited as the No. 1 reason why people don't work out. But come on. We all have 168 hours in a week; you can give at least three to your health and well-being (that's less than 2 percent, people!). Commit to exercising more over the next 10 weeks. It's one of the best investments you will ever make in your life.

Here are some tips to clear up that time. Pick three "no-TV" days a week; get up a half-hour earlier each morning; work out during your lunch break (oh, suck it up; it's not that bad. And you return to work with a sexy/healthy "glow.")

3. Stay in the present

Feeling guilty over what you have or have not done in the past is not the way to approach a new program. If you've tried, and failed, at 274 diets or workout plans in a row, so what? Do your best to learn from those experiences - and start new, right here, right now.

While on this program, if you miss one, five or 10 workouts in a row, don't throw in the towel.  Look forward to the next workout you'll do. This is about doing your best each day. Just commit to that and keep focused on the long-term goal of a healthier life.

Marin IJ fall fitness program's Week 1


Rest day. Taking time completely away from exercise is essential to keeping body and mind fresh over the long term. Rest means "no exercise." None. Nada. Please. If you're feeling antsy, turn on Yanni's greatest hits and take a hot mineral bath or something. Within minutes, you'll be unmotivated to do much of anything, let alone work out.


Sixty-minute aerobic. This can be swimming, biking, running, rollerblading - any activity that allows for continuous movement while driving your heart. These are the workouts that build cardiovascular health, boost immunity and burn body fat.

After a 10 minute warm-up, settle into a pace of 60 to 70 percent of your maximum effort. Subjectively, this should feel "moderately challenging and in control." If you want to do this right, use a heart rate monitor. Visit for more information.


Thirty-minute aerobic. After a 5-minute warm-up, you're going to do a 20-minute "tempo effort" that feels "substantially challenging" - or 80 percent of your maximum. Then ease into a 5-minute cool-down. This session works wonders to elevate your fitness and break through "plateaus." Alternative: In lieu of the 20-minute straight "tempo effort," you can do five 2-minute intervals with 2 minutes of rest between each interval.


Forty-five-minute strength work. Integrating supplemental strength training into your fitness plan is not important, it's vital! These workouts tone and strengthen your body, improve bone density and have been shown to help burn body fat. Impressive payoffs, so get thee to the gym. After a 5-minute warm-up, do two sets of 15 repetitions each - across five major muscle groups in this order - quadriceps, upper back, hamstrings, lower back, abdominals.


Rest. I mean it! No working out.


Ninety-minute aerobic. Same as Tuesday's workout, but at a slighter lower intensity. This is your "Fat Burner Supremo" of the week! Longer aerobic sessions metabolize a lot of body fat.


Thirty-minute strength work. Same as Thursday.

Above all, try to have fun with this over the next 10 weeks! And, submit your questions to I won't be able to get to all of them (the bad ones, anyway!), but I'll do my best to answer the good ones in future columns.

Marin native Eric Harr is a national best-selling author, former professional triathlete and the fitness expert for CBS-5 in San Francisco. For more information, visit

Meet New Friends, Get Out More and Just Have Fun!