The question: When I go to the gym with a friend, are there partner exercises we can do together, other than just doing the same exercises side-by-side?
The answer: Absolutely! There are tonnes of fantastic partner exercises that are both challenging and fun. I am a big believer in making workouts fun. You are more likely to continue exercising if you are enjoying yourself.
A simple partner exercise that requires no equipment would be tapping push-ups: Both you and your partner start in a push-up position from your knees or toes, heads toward each other. Both of you then bend your elbows to lower yourselves down toward the floor. As you push back up, high-five each other using your right hands. Do 10 reps, alternating hands. Tip: Try to keep your hips stable as you slap hands.
Also try partner-resist side planks: Both of your start in a side plank, facing each other, balancing on your left forearms and feet. While holding the side plank, place your right hands palm-to-palm. Holding this position, gently try to push your partner over. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides. Tip: Brace yourself through your core to stay stable.
If you have bosus and a medicine ball, there are even more fun options. Try a bosu squat pass: Set up two bosus, dome side up, about one person-length apart. Each of you starts on one bosu, in a squat, facing each other. One person starts with the medicine ball. As you both stand up, the first person tosses the ball to the other. Both of you continue to squat and pass the ball for 12 reps.
Trainer's tip: Establish goals with your partner so that you're motivated to stay on track even when your buddy is not around. For example, I recently signed my mom and I up for Zumba classes so we could be mother/daughter Zumba buddies. We both committed to go to a certain number of classes per week. But if our schedules don't match some weeks, we agreed to go separately and report back.