Exercise is proven to have huge benefits for our mental health, but working out with a friend can make it even more fun, and help to tackle any niggling feelings of gymtimidation, too.
With the theme of 2022’s Mental Health Awareness Week (Monday 9th May – Sunday 15th May) being loneliness, PureGym, who has raised over £350k for Mental Health UK since partnering with charity in 2019, are placing a focus on the benefits of having a gym buddy.
In addition to running Gym Buddy Coffee Mornings across the week at all of their 300+ nationwide gyms, where members can meet and chat with each other, Matty Ramsden, a PT at PureGym Leeds has shared his top tips on how to make friends at the gym.
So if you’re currently exercising alone and fancy having a friendly face to help keep you motivated (and to make those tough days at the gym a little easier) why not give his advice a go…
How To Make Friends At The Gym
1. Get involved! “Don’t feel like an outsider, every single person in the gym is there for one reason and that is to become better. Most people are open to being asked for advice, or to spot a lift, and this can be a good introduction to start to get to know someone”.
2. Create conversations: “Say hello, ask people how they are, or what they think of things such as a class. This can help you to gauge whether people are open to chatting, and you will begin to build up conversation over time”.
3. Smile! “Everyone comes across as more approachable when they smile! This can open up the opportunity for people to talk to you. Remember, if you’re feeling nervous and a bit out of place, there will be others feeling exactly the same too. A smile can go a long way!”
4. Sign up to a PT who offers Small Group Personal Training: “It’s a great way to build a community inside and outside the gym whilst feeling a part of something”.
It works too, as Hayley made a group of friends at the gym through one of Matty’s Small Group Personal Training sessions, and feels it has made a big difference to her time both in and out of the gym:
“Having gym buddies is great, it keeps you motivated as you don’t want to let yourself down, but mainly you don’t want to let your teammates down.
We always do a finisher in pairs which is great – you cheer each other on to beat the others. I have hit my deadlift PB of 90kg because I had my buddies chanting and cheering me on!
From never lifting a free weight to this, is a great achievement for me and it’s thanks to Matty and the girls for pushing me!
Everybody knows the benefits of exercise for your physical health. If I’m being honest, I didn’t really understand the benefits on my mental health until I started at PureGym and training with Matty.
I feel clear-minded, energetic and happy after a workout. It gives you a positive frame of mind. Along with my trusty to-do list, exercise allows me to get everything done.
If I miss a few sessions or workouts my mood is terrible! As soon as I get back to the gym, my mood lifts. It’s a win-win all round.
My advice would be to swallow your nerves and be open to having conversations with people. Everyone is very friendly and no matter what you think, everyone in that gym has been in your position! A lot of people are happy to say hi or give advice, you can always smile and take their lead from there.””
Sue, another gym-goer who joined PureGym in her retirement, made a group of friends at the gym who now regularly meet for coffee and have their own ‘Gym Buddies’ WhatsApp group, adds:
“Meeting people in the gym has enriched my life and expanded my social contacts. I am in a group of 12 ladies who I met at Halifax PureGym, all different ages and different backgrounds but we just gel – we call ourselves the Gym Buddies.
It began with just 3 of us talking at classes and has built up – now we meet for coffee after classes, go for meals, and support each other through good and bad times.
Don’t be afraid to join the classes – it’s a great way to bond with people by encouraging each other through the physical challenge, and this can turn into chatting about families, holidays, and becoming good friends”.
If you want to make this week the week you meet people at the gym, or simply start your own fitness journey, find your nearest PureGym here.