For a limited time, new Retro Fitness members will be able to gift a free one-year gym membership to any workout partner of their choosing.

By Arielle Tschinkel
December 28, 2019
Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Working out solo is fine, but having a fitness buddy by your side to cheer you on while you crush your goals is even better.

If you need a little extra motivation to get your best friend, family member, or partner to join you at the gym, Retro Fitness is offering the sweetest BOGO deal for the new year: When new members sign up, they'll be able to gift a free 1-year gym membership to someone else—yes, seriously.

Between now and January 17, Retro Fitness is offering new members the ability to give a free annual gym membership to a workout buddy of their choosing, so you can get your sweat on with a family member, friend, colleague, or partner all year long.

BOGO memberships start at $19.99 per month (for the gifter) and include access to the gym's cardio, circuit, and weight-training equipment, its locker room (with showers), as well as a fitness assessment and nutrition plan from the team at Retro Fitness. But your giftee can choose to upgrade to the gym's "Ultimate" BOGO membership to gain access to perks like group fitness classes, child-sitting services, and more. The best part: If your giftee wants to upgrade, they'll only have to pay the difference between the two membership types ($10 per month), rather than the full cost of the "Ultimate" membership ($29.99 per month), Andrew Alfano, CEO of Retro Fitness, tells Shape. Pretty sweet, right?

While there's certainly nothing wrong with working out at home or sweating it out solo, more people are gravitating toward group fitness, says Alfano. The fitness chain recently conducted a nationwide online survey of over 1,000 gym-goers aged 18-60 (who were members of different gyms, not Retro Fitness) to learn about their exercise preferences. Turns out, the survey found that exercising alone just isn't cutting it for most people. (Related: Joining an Online Support Group Could Help You Finally Meet Your Goals)

"The results showed that most gym-goers prefer to work out with a friend, family member, significant other, or another gym buddy, rather than working out alone or in their homes," explains Alfano. "People inspire people, and that helps them stay motivated and achieve their fitness goals."

In fact, there's a lot of science to support the benefits of making gym time a joint effort.

There's no shortage of research-backed benefits to working out with a partner. For instance, a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine explored health behaviors in nearly 4,000 couples and found that when one partner adopted healthy habits—like quitting smoking and including regular exercise in their routine—the other partner was much more likely to adopt those same healthy habits. (Related: 4 Ways to Choose the Best Workout Buddy for Your Fitness Squad)

But even if you're not coupled up, you're still likely to work harder when you hit the gym with someone else as opposed to sweating it out alone: In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Social Sciences, researchers randomly assigned 91 college students to one of three workouts of equal length and intensity: biking alone, biking with a "high fit" partner (meaning someone who "exercised intensely" and communicated how much they love exercising, according to the study), or biking with a "low fit" partner (defined in the study as someone who "barely exerted themselves" and claimed to "hate exercising"). Researchers found that, overall, people tend to "gravitate toward" the behavior of those around them when it comes to exercise. In other words, if you're working out with someone who seems like they're pushing themselves pretty hard, you're probably more likely to amp up your efforts, too.

Committing to a workout with someone else can also help to keep you both accountable to your fitness goals.

Regardless of whether your goals align with your workout buddy's objectives, sweating alongside someone else can keep both of you motivated, according to Retro Fitness' survey results. So, even if you're focused on training for a 5k while your fitness buddy is working on their deadlift, simply being there to support one another can help both of you achieve success. (Related: 10 Motivational Fitness Mantras to Help You Crush Your Goals)

Science supports this, too: Researchers from Indiana University surveyed people who participated in a fitness program over a 12-month period, including 16 married couples and 30 "married singles" (meaning married people who joined the program without their spouse). They found that people who worked out without their spouses were significantly more likely to drop out of the program compared to those who worked out with their partners, even for couples who weren't doing the same type of exercise in the program. The study authors even named "spousal support" as a primary motivator for those who stayed consistent with the fitness program.

Workout goals aside, exercising with someone else might just make you feel more zen in general.

A study of 136 college students published in the International Journal of Stress Management found that people who exercised on a stationary bike for 30 minutes with a friend reported feeling calmer after the workout compared to those who cycled alone. (Related: These BFFs Prove Just How Powerful a Workout Buddy Can Be)

The Bottom Line

The benefits of working out with a partner are virtually limitless. But if you're afraid of your BOGO free gym membership gift coming across the wrong way (à la the reaction to that viral Peloton ad earlier this month), Alfano believes it's all about your intentions and how you frame it.

"The Buy One, Give One membership offer [shows] that you want this person by your side as you inspire each other to reach your fitness goals," he says, adding that the gift can also encourage "a closer bond" between you and your giftee.

So grab your pal, lace up your sneakers, and hit up Retro Fitness before this deal ends.

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