By Chris 'Goof' Hanlon
A good gym buddy is like a loyal dog; dependable and reliable, they will stay by your side when you need them the most. Unfortunately a good pedigree gym buddy can be hard to come across and you may find yourself training alongside someone who has more in common with a mutt.
The first thing you need to do is find somebody you trust. You are going to be relying on them to get you through in your most vulnerable moments, so it is important that the person you go into battle with is a help, not a hinderance. Remember they are going to see you pulling those wierd faces and grunting as you struggle. This person tends to be someone who you have known for a long time, they share the same opinions as you and the same goals. This gym buddy will be up for enjoying a laugh as you go around to ease the mood, but only if the serious business is attended to. Camaraderie is essential. If the other person does not wish for the same end product as you, the partnership is pointless.
A good gym buddy will ensure that those last few reps that were seemingly impossible are pumped out. They will be able to adopt their style depending on the situation. This can be done through good old fashioned encouragement or praise, which makes you feel unbeatable. Sometimes they will see that you are just being lazy and they tell it how it is, this may be hard to take but can perk you up as you fear losing their respect. In the most extreme cases guilt can be used as a last straw to get you to do that rep. When the other two startegies have ben exhausted a gym buddy may make you feel bad a bout not doing the rep, then they themselves put in a massive effort on their go with the weights, this induces a feeling of subordination within yourself, you then feel the need to do something special to prove yourself and relieve the guilt (such as going up a weight or extending the amount of reps on your next set). Sometimes me and the Adman sing Rocky to each other, odd but it works. Not cool if other people are around though.
Above are some of the good traits a gym buddy should have, here is a selection of gym buddies that should be avoided.
The talkers: These can single handedly destroy a good session. They go with the right intentions but when it comes down to the hard work they just won't shut up. Between every set they feel the need to inconvenience you about something that's happening in their life, thus delaying your sets and allowing your arms to get back all their energy making the excersize partly pointless. They sometimes even talk whilst doing their sets, making themselves less productive. The also pick up randoms with their talking, meaning you find yourself making smalltalk in a group leading to a good ten minutes of inactivity. Their main strength however is encouragement.
Two is company, three's a crowd: Going to the gym in a group bigger than two is not a good idea. Multiple gym buddies are counter effective. Their are too many distractions and it turns into a social event. At all times there will be at least two people not doing anything, this means they will be lingering around the ones who are disturbing them. Group debates can also occur, meaning nobody is achieving anything. Note that a third person can also come in the form of a bored gym instructor. You say hello to them on the way in, sometimes you exchange a 10 minutes conversation on the way out, they are nice people. However when you are mid session and they have nothing to do they come over for a conversation. As they are at work and getting paid the aim is to waste as much time as possible with you, can be up to half an hour. They offer some advice but it puts you out of your rythm, you try to carry on but then they try to take the role of your gym buddy, this makes you self conscious so you stop and productivity is lost.
The irritators: These are mates who cannot be trusted. You probably know them reasonably well, but in your moment of weakness rather than help, they seize the opportunity to harrass you. This can come in the form of a quick jab to the kidney mid set or leaning on the weight, neither is helpful. Extreme cases can be pokes to the eye and slaps around faces. You still get a good session done but it is never comfortable as you are constantly looking over your shoulder for teh next attack.
Letter-offers: Probably the worst of the lot, the vermin of the gym buddies. You go with a serious intention to have a good session. You know that at times your body and mind will give up and you need your buddy to get you through. When this moment arrives the letter offer, rather than forcing you through will declare that 'you don't have to do it if you don't want to.' You will appreciate that this is unnacceptable. Rather than forcing you not to quit, they are reinforcing that what your mind and body is telling you is right. You somehow have to find it in you to continue despite all of this negativity. You will be hearing in your head that yes it has been a good session maybe you should call it a day. You are now battling them as well as the weights making your fight harder. If you are unfortunate to find yourself in this situation i urge you to block them out and ignore them.
As you can see finding the right person for the job is an important decision. You may want to test drive a few before deciding on a your ideal buddy. Pick them care fully and with caution.