The Fitness Freak: The Muscle Marriage between gym buddies

When you’re trusting another human to catch a barbell loaded with 300-plus pounds, there is a bond formed that can never be broken, a bond that is inseparable — something that no one understands besides you and your partner.

You do a pre-gym routine together, whether that’s simultaneously making protein shakes or complimenting each other on how tight the other’s gym shirt is, and you both walk into the weight room together with one goal in mind: to shred every weight machine there is in the building as one dynamic duo.

The gym buddy is one of the most simple, yet convoluted relationships known to man. On the surface, it’s a basic concept: support each other when heavy weights are in use. Yet, deep down, this friendship mirrors that of a marriage: plenty of joyous moments, occasional times of sadness and even times of heated disagreements.

So what makes a gym buddy bond so special?

Support Your Fellow Bro

This bond is more than being a spotter for each other. Anybody can stand behind you as you agonizingly attempt to thrust a 225-pound barbell into the air. Only one person, though, can provide the motivation you need when that loaded barbell is beginning to succumb to gravity: your gym buddy. The most important quality in any gym buddy is encouragement. Providing words of inspiration and support when the odds of lifting that substantial amount of weight are not in your favor. It’s amazing just how effective phrases are, such as “Come on, kid, you got this!” or “One more rep!”

“Usually my roommates join me,” said junior health promotion and fitness management major Gianni Grasso. “They find it helpful to have someone tell them to train as hard as they possibly can as opposed to staying at the same weight every time.”

Having that trusty gym partner by your side is the difference between getting that 225-pound barbell up off your chest only two times rather than six. Or, as Grasso pointed out, the difference between sticking with weight you can easily do compared to pushing your limits and moving up in weight.

Reverse Psychology and Friendly Competition

Everybody has seen that trainer who humiliates his trainee in an effort to toughen him up. While that’s certainly a valid technique, the approach your gym buddy takes should be a combination of reverse psychology and over-the-top flattering. When you’re preparing to begin a set, a good gym buddy will — more times than not — direct an insult your way, something along the lines of, “are you kidding me, bro? There’s no way you’re lifting that or “you’re going to let me lift more than you?” Upon hearing that, there’s a little fire that sets ablaze inside you and strengthens you to complete your set. Meanwhile, your gym buddy knew all along you were capable of doing so.

With that approach complete, in comes the admiration. Your gym buddy will do whatever it takes to keep you focused, whether that’s slurring insults at you or delivering compliment after compliment. After completing a set, phrases such as, “wow, you’re looking jacked, man!” or “someone’s been eating his Wheaties!” are often uttered. This unique advance is pivotal in keeping you determined and confident all at the same time.

Additionally, having a gym buddy by your side is a way of gauging yourself and releasing your competitive nature.

“If I’m with my ideal gym buddy, I work better because I feel like I am competing with them,” said  junior accounting major Alyssa Mills.

It’s the little things that count when it comes to the bond between you and your gym buddy.

24/7 Fitness Monitoring

Speaking of little things, here’s the ultimate path of communication between you and your fellow gym-goer. When your parents text you at 9 p.m., more times than not, you don’t respond. However, when your gym buddy sends a text to you at that time of night, you’re likely to respond. A good gym buddy doesn’t call it a day once his hour workout is over. While the brunt of your fitness quest is done in the weight room, there’s no way you will see the results you want if you fail to eat healthy and keep yourself hydrated.

This is where the gym buddy comes in.

Because the relationship, or what I like to call the “Muscle Marriage,” between you and your gym buddy is so personal, there is a sense of being there for each other. Sending texts or instant messages like, “don’t forget to take your evening protein shake,” or “be sure to avoid carbs today,” are commonplace in every muscle marriage. Everybody has a life outside of the gym, that is why your gym buddy is so important. He or she is the one who is there to keep you focused on goals and to remind you each and every day how you can take one step closer to your dream body.

*Kyle Phillippi is not a certified trainer. He is a dedicated, six-days-a-week gym-goer who is always scanning the Internet and magazines for new workout methods, tips and tricks.

For comments/questions about this story, email or tweet @thewhitonline.

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