When the alarm clock sounds beside you at five o’clock in the morning, it can be almost impossible to roll out of the warm blankets swaddling you, put on your athletic gear and hit the gym — but having an accountability partner may make getting out of bed exceptionally easier.
“Having someone to rely on — having friends that get up early with you and are consistent is a huge thing when training early in the morning,” marathon runner Amanda Rycraft says. “There are a lot of days I fight with myself to get out of bed, just to be an accountable person with my own goals, but having other people out there also showing up at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning — I can’t even describe it. It just forces you to get out of bed and go.”
Rycraft started running in her late twenties. She began placing in some races in her age group and slowly began running longer races. One year, a friend challenged Rycraft to run a marathon. Now 40 and part of a running group here in Austin, Rycraft has competed in 20 marathons since her first one five years ago.
The Austinite and marathon runner knows firsthand what it is like to train by herself. After completing her first marathon and training on her own, she says joining a group has made a huge difference in the number of miles she runs a week — and has helped her become faster and stronger.
“Training for a marathon by myself was no fun work; I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” Rycraft says. “I am too social of a person, and I need people to just be with me through the journey. I think that is really important.”
Gina King, chief experience officer and regional sales director for F45 Domain Austin, Westlake and Lakeway says accountability partners are vital because, when we make promises to ourselves, we could possibly be the first people to let ourselves down.
“If I make a promise to myself, I may follow through, but if I make a promise to you, I’m for sure gonna follow through. I think that’s just the whole psychology of things,” King says.
“We as humans really don’t want to let each other down, and I think it’s easier for us to have accountability with each other for support.”
Working at a gym, King says coaches value accountability. Good coaches will reach out to members weekly or biweekly to check in, talk about goals and offer support in keeping each person healthy.
Anna Epifani, F45 member, says the coaches at F45 have been really helpful in staying accountable and getting fit for the first time as a 40-year-old mom. After taking a walk down Congress Avenue one day and feeling winded after walking up a hill, Epifani says she was mortified.
“I was with a new friend, and it felt really embarrassing that I couldn’t even enjoy a walk,” she says. “I was waiting for my daughter, and I saw F45 in the rearview mirror and so I called the number.”
Epifani began taking fitness classes in June 2020 and, at the time, didn’t even know what a burpee was. Epifani says she remembers that first class being tough, but with King’s encouragement and help to guide her through workout modifications, she made it through.
“It was amazing to see how everyone just chipped in and was very supportive of me, watching the moves and making sure we were all doing things right, cheering us on, and making it easier or harder,” Epifani says. “Just knowing that I can reach out to somebody has been a huge peace of mind. People want you to succeed, and they want to remind you you can do it and don’t give up.”
Epifani says she has also found accountability for her diet and nutritional guidance through her experience of joining a gym.
“The people at F45 have made themselves completely available,” Epifani says. “I just barely started buying fresh vegetables instead of frozen. The accountability is really stemmed from learning how to eat right from people from F45. I am also talking to a nutritionist, and so she’s been giving me a lot of feedback, and I talk to her weekly trying to figure out what works for me.”
Rycraft says she, too, benefits from having not one, but several accountability partners. However, Rycraft says it is also important to make sure those individuals will also help push your limits in addition to being accountable.
“I think my number one training partner would be my friend Krysten,” Rycraft says. “And that is because, when we are doing a workout or doing something [where]I need to get into a certain pace, it’s good having someone by your side willing to suffer with you and at the same time know you can always do better and push you.”
Rycraft says having a group of likeminded people or someone who shares similar goals and wants to see you do better at the same time is essential to success and accountability, and it goes both ways.
“I think having people that kind of reach out and schedule with you is one of the most helpful ways to stay accountable,” Rycraft says. “Similarly, I know I am going to reach out to the same group of women every Sunday, whether through Instagram or text message, just because I am trying to build our group. And I know how beneficial it is to know you have something planned every week.”