Training as a couple might be a great way to improve your relationship with your partner but it can also cause unwanted strain in the partnership.
By: Gregor Areseb
According to a study undertaken by University College London, in which over 3000 couples and their habits were analysed, couples that went to the gym together were more likely to beat their unhealthy habits than those that didn’t. The research also pointed towards a phenomenon called the ‘halo-effect’ – a powerful placebo effect which made couples feel warmer towards one another.
But as much as much as going to the gym with your partner might sound romantic, it can bring forth a set of new challenges.
Speaking to Ace Fitness Organisation, Dr. David Lacocque (clinical and sport psychologist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Athletic Department and a private family therapist) notes that: “More so than other activities, working out together can bring up challenging themes such as trust, vulnerability and power dynamics.”
Fitness trainer/coach, Gregor Areseb, writes more about this growing trend.
Why train as a couple?
A few couples are able to sit down together and talk face to face. Working out together allows time to talk, even if only for the shared time traveling to and from the gym or the time spent stretching before and after a training session.
The time spent together after your workout is a great time to connect, as you are generally pleasantly tired, relaxed and happy. It’s also a great time to grab a healthy snack or meal or share a smoothie.
If you spend time together in the weight room, on the treadmills or track, you also have opportunities to communicate. Of course, a key to these benefits is avoiding all those electronic devices that block communication, like headphones, smartphone or watching television while on the treadmill.
Couples who train together share an emotional bond. You are working together against a common enemy – fat, early aging, diabetes and heart disease. As you both begin to see results (whether it be physical results, such as weight loss or lean muscle) – you can share the pride in your accomplishments and celebrate.
While some people might see their training as their ‘me’ time, and a way to escape their partner for a short time, those in a relationship should also consider training together (one or two days a week, or when convenient) as a method to bring you together without the outside distractions that can place pressures on modern relationships. The notion of couples that ‘play together stay together’ is easily applied to fitness training.
Why you shouldn’t .
Most likely, your top choice of workouts may not be the same as your partner’s. You are different people and you may have very different preferences when it comes to exercise, and the more you enjoy what you’re doing, the more likely you’ll stick with it and push yourself to excel. For any workout to be effective, the intensity and motivation have to remain high and this may be affected if one of the partners are not present or lacks the enthusiasm.
The competitive nature of one partner.
Its human nature to compete but that’s exactly why working out together can be a recipe for disaster.
A less fit partner can also force the more experienced half to decrease the intensity of his or her workout because of the other’s physical limitations, diminishing the potential benefits of the more fit partner.
Different fitness levels.
Training together always starts as a positive, motivating experience, then, the pair is forced to accept their differences and things can quickly turn sour.
A less fit partner can also force the more experienced half to decrease the intensity of his or her workout because of the other’s physical limitations, diminishing the potential benefits of the more fit partner. If you think nagging at home leads to fights, this can follow you to the training environment.
Couples that are at different fitness levels may take on a new type of stress, especially when the one instructing the other loses patience, or the one receiving the instruction loses hope.
Your partner results could burn you out.
Everyone’s body responds differently to exercise, so when one partner is getting amazing results and losing more weight than the other, resentment can build, leading to a fall out. Generally Men tend to have a higher percentage of muscle, while women naturally carry a little more body fat. This means that guys tend to burn more calories during exercise, as well as when they’re sitting on the couch (Food for thought).
Should you hire a coach or trainer?
Having a certified personal trainer or a coach can take you and your partner through various exercise options and an assigned program can help remove the “controlling” aspect of working out as a team at the gym or anywhere else. That way no one is in control of the other.
Two partner work-outs:
Target areas: Shoulders & triceps.
One person sits on a chair or bench. The other turns away from partner and squats in front, placing hands on partner’s thighs with fingers forward. Standing partner walks feet away from body and lowers until triceps are parallel to ground.
Return to start; repeat. Switch places after each set.
Target Areas: Legs & butt.
Stand and face each other about two feet apart, feet hip-width apart and knees soft. Both lower into squat, arms at chest level, elbows bent and palms out. One person holds squat while the other jumps up and raises arms overhead (as shown). As soon as the jumper lands, the other person jumps up. Continue alternating jumping and squatting until both partners have jumped 15 times.
Sources: Ace Fitness Org, Fitnessmag
Gregor runs “Fit to Run” – a running club that helps promote running and good health. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Finance, as well as a level 1 personal trainer certification and is currently busy doing his exercise science certification through Trifocus Fitness Academy. Gregor is also a Boot camp instructor and owner of the brand called RUN, which he started about a year ago. He lives in Windhoek, Namibia.