Love Happy: Working out as a couple
Welcome to Love Happy, where we help you successfully navigate the ups and downs of relationship life and share simple tips for keeping love fun, fresh and on track. This week, we’re looking at the benefits of working out as a couple.
Motivation to move
I'm not going to beat around the bush – I'm lazy. I have had more gym memberships than I care to recall, and I've let them all lapse (or collect dust in my purse). If it weren't for my boyfriend and his penchant for walking everywhere (despite having a car), I would probably weigh 400 pounds. Walking and hiking together (and canoeing in the summer) help keep me in shape, and the fact that he's the one pushing me to put my sweatpants to good use only increases my chances of actually burning some calories.
Debra Basch, certified personal trainer, has been seeing firsthand an increase in couples sweating it out together. "I'm seeing more and more couples either working out directly together or at least working out in the same gym," she says. "Date nights are often preceded by a spinning class or a workout, and like-minded couples keep each other motivated because they don't have to give up a workout in order to spend time together."
Basch agrees that having a workout partner can help keep you motivated. Exercising together makes fitness fun, creates some healthy competition, helps you stick to your fitness goals, challenges you and keeps you committed and consistent, she says: "Your partner can encourage you and not let you off the hook for that last set of walking lunges."
Gym time = bonding time
The only time I have gone to the gym on a fairly regular basis was when my boyfriend was going too. Knowing he was going to work out motivated me to come along because I didn't want to feel lazy staying home and watching TV. Of the friends I polled who are in relationships, none currently work out with their partner, but all thought it would be a great motivator for actually hitting the gym more regularly. Plus, as Basch mentions, exercising together means an opportunity to see each other during an otherwise busy day. "Working out is a healthy way to spend time together rather than just watching movies or eating out."
Aside from the obvious health benefits, working out and keeping muscles strong and toned keeps testosterone levels high, ideally maintaining sex drives, Basch says: "Exercise produces chemicals in the brain that make you feel good, and it's great to share those feelings with your significant other."
For clients who want to work out with a partner, Basch says they should come up with plan to make the most of their simultaneous sweat time. She suggests working on a circuit of several exercises that each person does either one at a time or together. "Partner based exercises are fun and competitive and will add variety to your fitness regime," she says. Having a spotter for more challenging exercises will also help you push each other.
Being accountable to someone, either a trainer or a workout partner, really helps you adhere to a fitness regime, Basch says. It's so easy to use the excuse of work, chores, family commitments, lack of energy or lack of motivation as a reason to skip your workout altogether, but with the threat of letting someone else down, you're much more likely to get off the couch, turn off the TV and head to the gym.