You love your BFF, you really do. But she’s all fit and you’re all… well, not. Every time you exercise together she does better than the instructor, while you hyperventilate in the fetal position. As much as you want to work out with her, you’re starting to have PTSD flashbacks of elementary school gym class.
So what’s an out-of-shape girl to do? Don’t fret: Leveling the playing field doesn’t have to be as complicated as squeezing into your yoga tights. Here’s the 411.
First of all, your BFF can’t help that she’s fabulous
Every friend I’ve ever had is more active than me. (Even my cat moves more.) I was always the nerd trying to stay inside at recess so I could organize my teacher’s flash cards and avoid all of the icky exercise that was going on outside. But seriously, wouldn’t it be nice to be as excited about your health as your athletically inclined friends?
“View it as something to aspire to: Fitness is a lifestyle and a personal journey,” says James Brewer, trainer at Exceed Physical Culture. “Let your fit friends encourage and inspire you to keep working toward your own personal fitness goals, but be sure to go at your own pace.”
Focus on the socializing, not the exercising
One of the biggest reasons exercising with your friends is more successful than exercising on your own is because of how motivating the moral support is. As they say, there’s strength in numbers. It keeps boredom at bay and turns it into a bonding experience.
“Don’t be intimidated; everybody has a starting point,” says Marianna Biribin, trainer at Exceed Physical Culture. “Think of it as a fun outing with your friend and take it from there.” By the time you’re done catching up with each other on the details of your day, you’ll have finished a workout without even realizing it.
Meet in the middle
When just watching your BFF’s fitness routine compels you to take a nap, see if there’s some way for you to still work out together, but meet in the middle: A workout that suits you will likely be boring for her, while the level she’s at would send you to the emergency room. For example, you might join her during her warm-up routine until you feel fit enough to take your relationship with exercise to the next level.
Add to your entourage
Do you know of any mutual friends who find exercising as challenging as you do? If so, find out if she’d be interested in joining your exercise crew. That way, when your uber-fit friends want to take their workout to the next level and you’re already spent, you have someone to grab a green tea with.
Commit to consistency
Even if you suck at exercise, your focus as you increase your stamina should first be on consistency: building the habit of exercising on a regular basis. That way, on those off days where you feel like you’re holding your friends back, you can be proud that you’re at least showing up and putting in an honest effort. After all, you have to start somewhere.
“Push yourself, but be safe,” says Gabriel Blanco, trainer at Exceed Physical Culture. “Know your limits and work hard to break them. Don’t be afraid to try to keep up with your friends, but don’t be afraid to tap out when you need to.”