Couples Can Exercise Together: Here’s How
In honor and recognition of Valentine’s Day, I want to address a big issue and concern that arrives in the life of every relationship. It’s that moment when you have the brilliant idea: "We should work out together." While working out as a couple has its benefits -- a commitment to staying fit, extra motivation and even an improved sex life - it may not be a good activity for some couples.
Every person is different and every relationship is different. Couples usually don’t take the time to discuss each person’s fitness goals beforehand. Partners need to establish some guidelines before taking on a workout plan together.
You should decide how many times a week you’ll exercise together and find a time that works for both of you. You should consider throwing in the towel if you’re not motivating each other to achieve the goals you each want to achieve.
Sensitivity to Each Other’s Bodies & Emotions
Another uncomfortable, yet necessary, issue to discuss is each person’s physique. It goes without saying that your body can be different from your partner’s -- from body fat to muscle mass to lung capacity. You need to be sensitive to that when setting goals, and come up with realistic expectations, until the person is in a place where they feel less self-conscious.
To prevent the competitive or jealous streak from taking over, find a type of exercise or workout that interests both of you. People build more intimacy when they are developing a shared interest and having new experiences together. So try an activity neither of you have done before, like a dance class, yoga or paddle boarding. Remember that the goal is to have time together.
Keep These Guidelines in Mind
• Be open to trying something different. When your partner offers to teach you to shoot a basketball, even though you haven’t played since elementary school, suspend your disbelief or your fear of humiliation rather than reflexively saying, "I’d rather be swimming."
• Switch off being the leader. Two type A personalities attempting to direct the same workout can lead to butting heads. Let one person plan how you’ll spend your half-hour of weights or pick the mountain bike route. Think of it as having your own personal trainer, and allow your own brain to shut off.
• Learn something new together. He’s a spin class veteran, and you’d rather do yoga? Try something totally new for both of you. Buy a package of tennis lessons, or join a hiking club. Besides being fun, trying novel activities together is good for your love life.
• Try activities you can do at different paces. If you’ve run for years but your boyfriend is a newbie, your easy 4-mile jog can be his weekly speed workout. If you both like to cycle, the faster person can sprint ahead, then circle back and ride with the slower one. At the gym, you can work out on adjoining machines to pick your own pace.
• Pick different, but compatible, activities. Working out together doesn’t always mean doing the same thing. Maybe one person wants to use the elliptical machine, and the other wants to lift weights nearby.
• Push yourself, but don’t overdo it. One of the best parts of working out à deux is getting motivated to go farther than you think you can. Don’t, however, hurt yourself. Test, but don’t exceed, your limits.
• Take cues from your workout buddy. Some people like to chat nonstop; others prefer companionable silence; still others like to listen to the same iPod playlist. Be aware of what your partner enjoys, compromise, and figure out what works for you both.
• Be supportive. Be kind and encouraging. People are more likely to keep up an exercise routine if it’s fun. "Fun" doesn’t include being snapped at and berated for not catching on quickly enough.
• Make sure your own workout needs get met. If you need more of a challenge and can’t figure out a way to exercise together, don’t be afraid to tell him you need several workouts a week to yourself, too.
Ken Hunt is the owner of New York and Miami’s Steel Gym, an AFI-certified trainer and a fitness expert with expert advice featured in the New York Times, Compete, Horizon Barcelona, La Cosmopolatina, Men’s Fitness, DailyBurn, SiriusXM and LA Talk Radio, Edge, Ethan Says, IDEA Fitness Journal, Latin Trends and many other health blogs and sites. He travels the US and Europe lecturing on physical fitness and is currently finishing his new book, The Hunt for Fitness. Under Ken’s management, Steel Gym has been named three years in a row the Number 1 gym in New York by the American Fitness Institute; three years in a row awarded the New York Award for Physical Fitness Facilities; has been named one of the Top 5 gyms in the U.S. by Muscle & Fitness Magazine; and has been given the Talk of the Town Award four years in a row for Outstanding Customer Service. Steel Gym is located at 146 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan. Call (212) 352-9876, In Florida, Steel Gym is located at5556 NE 4th CT. Miami. Call (305) 751-7591. You can e-mail Ken at SteelGymInfo@aol.com or log onto www.SteelGym.com for more information. You can also follow Steel Gym on Facebook.com/SteelGymNYC and Twitter.com/SteelGym.