If you’ve ever worked out with a buddy, you know how motivational it can be. Instead of tapping the snooze button when you wake up or deciding you’re too tired to hit the gym after work, you find yourself thinking about your friend and that she’s waiting for you and you’d be letting her down if you don’t go. Right? Right! Whether you’ve downloaded a fitness video, an app, or done an exercise class, you’ll see that a lot of these borrow from that psychology. They come with inbuilt community features – whether it’s sharing with a forum, getting reminders from the app, or exhortations from your instructor. They all let you know that someone is rooting for you. They know what we intrinsically know: accountability is crucial. It’s what keeps you honest!

Having something, or someone, outside of yourself to motivate, encourage, and support you is one of the reasons I co-founded BigLoserIndia, one of a few online communities that encourage fitness. BigLoserIndia lives and breathes on twitter. It works as a virtual buddy system where people are matched up to a sponsor – usually someone they don’t know – who then keeps them accountable for their fitness regimen.

I sponsor four lovely ladies; I also work out really regularly. Every day I tweet to them with the #bglsr hashtag and log my workout and in doing so, I ask them how they’re doing and what their daily exercise has been. In turn, they all sponsor each other, as well as other people, and log their exercise, as well. If they miss a day, I crack the proverbial whip (yes, virtually!) to nag, scold, tease, and generally encourage them into getting off their a$$es and going to dance class, the gym, the pool, or the track.

BigLoserIndia also has another psychological tool for getting people in shape: Participants are not just doing it for each other--they’re doing it for charity. The way it’s set up, sponsors pledge a certain amount of money per kilogram their sponsored friends lose and at the end of the year the money goes to charity. The other founders and I believe that we’re all unfit and overweight because we have a surfeit of good things; the inches we lose and the money we pledge goes to provide mid-day meals for underprivileged kids in school. In our first year, we raised over 1.40 lakh rupees.

We have found that the buddy system works. We’re easier on ourselves when there’s no one holding us accountable. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that I believe that we’re all slackers at heart and for some of us, the determination and motivation comes from within, but most of us need rewards, carrots, and loads of positive feedback and kudos to get out there and do what needs to be done. Community really helps turn those New Year resolutions into action. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

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