The Pressure of Sweating with Friends

I love the social influence of healthy living. A fitness Instagram might be mocked by some, but it can help keep people accountable and positive, and it can help track their progress and goals. I love working out with others because it makes exercise fun and not a chore. CHAARG and aSweatLife are two organizations that prioritize fun, friends, and fitness, and I think it has the power to change how we approach wellness.

However, I am not a fan of the guilt and shame that can become associated.

Exhibit A: You and a friend agree you’ll go to a fitness class together every Monday morning to hold each other accountable. You love the fitness class, but getting to the studio location complicated your morning routine and makes it more a burden than a pleasure. You start your Monday a little late to work, and a little disgruntled because you missed a 6AM bus and had to pay for a cab.

Exhibit B: Your knee has been hurting a little after your workouts. You’ve struggled with knee injuries in the past, so you’re a little worried and consider taking a break from exercising. Your friends either: 1) peer pressure you into a workout with them or 2) tell you “no pain, no gain!” You don’t want to let them down, so you wince through the pain.

Exhibit C: Your friend has been posting all over Instagram about her new, all-natural diet and how amazing she feels and that she’ll never go back. You two were going to go to brunch on Saturday, and she says you’re going to this uber trendy health shop that features $20 acai bowls. You’re hungover and broke and want greasy potatoes but feel guilty of ever admitting that to your goddess friend who is apparently glowing from all of those superfoods.

Sound familiar? Often times, guilt is self-inflicted and shame is imagined. Most people won’t judge or criticize your personal life choices (if they do, cya later byeeeeee!), but there’s still this pressure that comes with including friends in your fitness journey. What’s meant to be positive and encouraging can quickly go downhill if everyone isn’t understanding of others’ circumstances.

It shouldn’t be necessary to overexplain this one. With your friends, treat them nicely and remember that their body/schedule/preferences/choices are not yours. It’s always awesome to invite people to things, but be cognizant of their feelings and idk, LIFE. Everyone is going at their own pace with their own goals.

If you’re struggling to find friends with similar goals to your own, try Sweatworking, CHAARG, or ClassPass. There are always new fitness friends to be made. And of course, as awesome and encouraging as friends are, they are not indicative of your success or progress, so focus on you and what your body needs, always!

++ Mary K

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