I have almost always worked out alone. Not isolated, mind you. I am rarely in an empty room. But it is something like walking by yourself down a crowded street.
Throughout the years, I have tried many times to get friends to join me at the gym, but it didn’t work for more than a session or two. For many years while training to climb mountains, and now as I train for competition, what I needed from a workout was wildly different than someone looking to maintain fitness. Still, I’ve watched the many athletes in my gym who have training partners with a small twinge of envy. They are never stuck setting up complicated equipment by themselves, which adds an element of inefficiency to the workout, or wondering how to set a good pace or where to take breaks. And even during the most arduous sets, they can laugh at the pain, rather than be overwhelmed by it.
This week, I found a training partner: Jessica Suver, a CrossFit Games athlete in 2013 and thirty years my junior, who shares many of my weaknesses and strengths. Because we are both tall (she is 6′), we are especially challenged by the gymnastic elements of CrossFit, and we are both strong (Jessica has a 400 pound deadlift!). Because Jessica is not competing in the Regionals Competition this year (and therefore is ineligible for the Games), she decided that the Invictus Masters competitive plan (the program I follow), with its emphasis on building skills while improving strength, would be the perfect way to accomplish her own goal to qualify for the CrossFit Games in 2016. Partnering up with me was her idea. I leapt at the chance.
Working together, Jessica and I plan to do the same things every day: training barbell at Waxman’s Gym, seeing Maddy Curley for gymnastics coaching, and performing our WODs at Paradiso’s Gym. The only difference is that she will use the weights prescribed for younger Master’s, while I lift the “granny” weights prescribed for me. We’re also planning to do some of the recommended recovery activities together, like hiking and swimming.
In just one week, I have already discovered the benefits of working with a partner. Jessica has been a rower and volleyball player, and I am learning from her aptitude for competition. We can hold each other accountable for really learning the skills we each need. We can spot each other and take video to illustrate constructive criticism. We might even indulge in occasional commiseration. But I look forward the most to a shared sense of accomplishment as we reach our individual goals—double the gratification.