Peak Performance | Enlisting Help from an Accountability Partner

In this piece from Mountaineer magazine, we share fun partner exercises to stay on track with your fitness goals.
Courtenay Schurman Courtenay Schurman
February 05, 2022
Peak Performance | Enlisting Help from an Accountability Partner

A great way to stay on track with your fitness goals during the off-season is to enlist help from accountability partners. They can provide much-needed support, encouragement, and motivation when you’re feeling stuck or unsure of how to move forward. While a workout partner might meet you at the gym or trailhead, an accountability partner helps keep you on track by discussing how you’re doing, where you’re struggling, and what you want to accomplish. If you've been pursuing a goal and feel your enthusiasm waning, partner up!

When to enlist help

Whenever you feel like you’re struggling or want added positive pressure is a good time to get help. Starting out, you might feel like you need to check in with your partner every few days as you build a habit, then shift to weekly or monthly. If the first person isn’t a good fit, keep searching until you find someone who is. Remember that coaches and teachers are usually paid, while accountability partners are free. Be sure to exchange equally so that the relationship does not become one-sided.

Who to ask

First and foremost, look for someone you trust. The last thing you need is to reveal your dreams to someone who dismisses them or tries to discourage you. You may enlist a friend, family member, or significant other as your partner, or you may feel more comfortable buddying up with someone from the same gym or club who has reached a similar goal as yours and could offer advice. You might also find a partner through online resources such as Meetup, Reddit, Facebook groups, forums, or focus groups. Participating on Mountaineers trips can be a great way to meet potential accountability partners as well.

What to ask for

An accountability partner will listen to you, provide feedback, and help you stay on track. They provide external motivation to complement your intrinsic, or internal, motivation. I use an accountability partner for my writing. We email twice a week, sharing successes from the previous 3-4 days and outlining our goals for the next 3-4 days. By writing down goals and committing to another person, I strengthen my resolve to follow through. I don’t want to let her down or confess that I didn’t do what I said I would. And in return, I offer her the same support and encouragement.

You can do the same for fitness goals by telling your partner what workouts or hikes you plan to do, what time you’ll go to sleep each night, or how many servings of protein you’ll consume each day. These goals can be tailored to wherever you want to make process. Accountability partners might also provide motivation through friendly competition. My husband defines competition as “agreeing to perform better,” which is exactly what you’re looking for. You may compare stats, and you may enjoy a “rivalry,” but your end goal is to support your buddy to meet their movement goals.

Why partner up?

As this magazine issue highlights, it truly does “take a village” to reach our goals. We are stronger in collaborative relationships than we are working by ourselves. It is harder to break promises we make to those we trust and respect than it is to break ones we make to ourselves. Commit to your partner, add your accountability practice to your calendar, follow through, and get to work making changes. Remember, you are not alone!

Courtenay Schurman is an NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, Precision Nutrition Level 2 Certified Nutrition Supercoach, and co-owner of Body Results. She specializes in training outdoor athletes. For more how-to exercises or health and wellness tips, visit her website at or send a question to

If you’d like more ideas on how to get unstuck, subscribe to Courtenay Schurman’s free weekly blog at

This article originally appeared in our Winter 2022 issue of Mountaineer Magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our publication, visit our magazine archive.

Lead image of Serophina O. and Kevin O. on a MAC overnight cross-country ski trip. Photo by Carl Marrs.

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