Fitness For All: How Different Fitness Levels Can Work Together

The benefits of working out with a partner, friend, or loved one are numerous. Whether it’s a cardio-heavy cycling session, a bodyweight workout, or a lifting session, having the added support and encouragement can make all the difference and put the “fun” in fitness. In fact, research from the University of Aberdeen found that an exercise buddy increases the amount of exercise people motivate themselves to do. But working out with other people often means working out with other fitness levels. For me, that’s not a reason to workout solo but rather an opportunity to get creative with exercise. Here are some of my favorite ways to mix movements when training with different fitness levels.

1. Complete Your Training And Add In A Partner Bonus Round
If you’re more advanced than your workout partner, consider doing your training earlier and then pairing up to burn additional calories together. When my son was young, I developed a similar system to ride together. I would go out and do my training, and then pick him up at home for our lap together. When he got older, we’d meet in a place where he could train without traffic. As he became stronger, he’d cycle next to me and we’d even enjoy some light conversation. Those was some precious father-son times!

2. Turn It Into A Step Challenge
You might have different strides and speeds, but steps can be a common, unifying factor. I like turn dog walks with my daughters Maya and Helen into step challenges where we see who can reach 1,000 steps first. Since they both wear the Fitbit Ace tracker, counting steps is easy and it really gets them excited. We get in activity, fresh air, and the dogs love it, too.

3. Do Different Form Of Cardio
My wife and I also have a system. When I run for an hour, she follows me on her bike. I choose some wide and easy tracks in our local forest and make sure the surface works for both of us. These moments together are pretty precious because it’s the only private time we get during the day–no kids, cats, dogs, rabbits, or mother-in-laws interrupting. An added bonus: My wife’s bike has a basket where we can stow away our water bottles, wallets, anything else that’s not optimal to carry. When it comes to working out with the kids, I make a game out of raking leaves by telling them it will help make their muscles big and strong. We get in a workout, laugh, and get chores done! 

4. Change Weight And Reps
When training in the gym, it’s easy to workout with different levels. If you’re following the same program, everyone can load weights that best match their ability. If you’re doing a circuit workout, novices can do one round while those with more experience go for a second round. Just last week on a family holiday to Austria, the kids wanted to check out the gym. They did a full-body workout but just did fewer reps and less weight. We all had a good workout. Always remember If you want to train hard and fast, go alone or with people of similar fitness levels. But, if you’re riding with people of varying athletic backgrounds, remember to be respectful, keep communication open, and stay together.

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