The Buddy System

There are many good reasons to work out with a friend, not least of which is that it forces you show up.

It also pushes you to work harder, according to a study from the University of Aberdeen, which found that a group with exercise partners worked out more than those who flew solo.

The first time I joined a gym, it was with my best friend Lisa. We were 13, and took advantage of a crazy cheap membership at a nearby Lucille Roberts. For our evaluation, the trainer looked me up and down, then offered, “Your problem is your shoulders are too broad, and there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Now that’s helpful information for a body-conscious eighth grader: there’s something wrong with you and there’s nothing you can ever do to change it. Good thing my friend was there.

Lisa and I went to that gym once a week for two months. Afterward, while we waited for her big sister to pick us up, we’d go to the bakery next door and buy a loaf of banana bread and eat the whole thing. (After the promotional membership ended and we quit, the gym kept calling to try to get us back. I’m surprised the bakery didn’t call, too.)

All in all, not a bad memory. So when I saw my friend Eileen at a birthday party last summer and she looked 10 years younger and in great shape, despite having several glasses of wine and two desserts, and said it was all because of her personal trainer, Rolf, I thought, “I want some of that.”

But not all of that, because having a personal trainer come to your house is expensive, and an hour is a long time to do deadlifts and lunges.

Enter one of my favorite friends, Liz (that's her at left, with Rolf. Did I mention the massages?). We work out with Rolf together at my house and even though I’ve never liked exercise, it’s an hour I look forward to. Liz is a brilliant former NYC prosecutor who asks a lot of questions and often does more repetitions than Rolf asks for because she loses count. I am a former editor of Soap Opera Digest who complains about sit-ups and does less than I’m supposed to when Rolf isn’t looking.


It’s perfect.

Rolf’s also a nutrition expert (and a big fan of organic, cold-pressed Living Juice, btw - of course his favorite is Green Vitality, with kale, cucumber, parsley, lemon, celery, fennel). So in addition to guiding us through exercises, Rolf tells us what’s wrong with what we’re eating.

If he only knew how far I’ve come. At least Liz and I don’t split loaves of banana bread.

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