Michelle Obama left the White House months ago, but she says in a new Instagram post that she’s kept one habit from her first lady days: She regularly works out with her friends.
“When I was at the White House, I often hosted bootcamp weekends for my close girlfriends,” she wrote in the caption next to several photos of herself and her friends doing planks, lunges, and sit-ups on a grassy field. “It didn’t matter that we were all at varying fitness levels. Our bootcamp weekends were a reminder that if we want to keep taking care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first.”
Obama says that even though she’s no longer FLOTUS, she’s continued the tradition and wanted to share it with others. “My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years — including a pretty big one recently! — and we’ve done our best to stay healthy together,” she wrote. “Whether it’s a bootcamp or a walk around the neighborhood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this summer to be healthy together.”
The concept of working out with friends isn’t new, but Doug Sklar, a certified personal trainer and founder of New York City-based fitness training studio PhilanthroFIT, tells Yahoo Beauty that it’s a good one. “Working out with friends can add motivation, encouragement, support, and accountability,” he says, pointing out that it’s a lot easier to skip a workout if the only person you’re relying on to be there is you. “If you have friends who are depending on you, you are much more likely to honor your commitment to them which in turn helps you stay accountable and consistent for yourself,” Sklar says. And, of course, working out with a friend is usually more fun than doing it on your own, so you’re more inclined to do it more often.
Albert Matheny M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., of SoHo Strength Lab and Promix Nutrition, tells Yahoo Beauty that the hardest part for most people is often getting started — and having a friend to get you going can make a big difference. Working out consistently, as you’re more likely to do with a friend, also lowers the odds you’ll get injured, Matheny says.
Of course, you want to choose your workout buddies wisely — an unreliable friend or one who doesn’t share your commitment to fitness can actually work against your efforts, Sklar says. That’s why he recommends having an honest conversation with your friend or friends before you commit to working out together. Make sure you’re on the same page and have similar goals, and talk about scenarios that might come up — for example, what you’ll do if one of you has a work commitment that gets in the way of your regular workout date. “If everyone is willing to challenge and support each other throughout the experience it should be beneficial for all involved,” Sklar notes.
It’s also a good idea to find a workout buddy that compliments your skill set. “Maybe you know your way around with dumbbells but aren’t great at running and your friend can help and motivate you with that,” Matheny says.
Naturally, you won’t be able to work out together every time, but having a buddy push you can help you reach new levels of fitness. “If you start together, work together, and stick together there is a great chance you will achieve positive results together,” Sklar says.