A good gym buddy shares your fitness goals or has goals a little more challenging than yours and is ready to exercise regularly. It helps if she's roughly your age and close to your fitness level (or better)-but that's not mandatory. The important thing is to look for someone who shares the following qualities. Your gym buddy should be:

  1. Motivated.

    It's difficult to start and maintain an exercise habit. Your gym buddy's job is to keep you coming back to the gym, studio, or trail even when you don't particularly feel like it. Staying motivated by someone who takes your exercise program seriously counts for a lot, but this gym buddy thing goes both ways. You have to keep your buddy motivated too. How do you keep each other coming back for more? Try new things, commit to your workout dates, and find activities and events to do together that will help you reach your goals.

  2. Dedicated.

    Your gym buddy needs to be consistent, devoted, and reliable. Pick someone who you know manages time well, will keep workout dates, won't show up late or cut them short, and won't enable you to slack off. It's hard enough to make time to exercise without having your gym buddy waste it.

  3. Flexible.

    Your gym buddy isn't supposed to be a drill sergeant. Fitness goals are meant to grow and change according to your needs. If your goals are too easy, too difficult, or simply unreasonable, you need to change them. Pick a gym buddy who is willing to change the game plan and try something different.

  4. Healthy.

    Don't waste your time with someone who's lifestyle is unhealthy; they'll just slow you down. Pick someone who lives a healthy life and who shares your goal to get healthier, stronger, and fitter.

  5. Fun.

    If exercising together isn't fun, you're not going to do it. Pick a buddy who you know you'll enjoy spending time with, who knows how to work and play at the same time, but also understands that you mean business.

Your gym buddy might be a family member, a coworker, friend, or a complete stranger. Ask a fitness instructor or personal trainer to recommend a few people who are looking to team up or sign up for a small group training class. Post an ad at work, on a social media site, at the gym, or your local running shoe store, and interview buddies carefully.