Work It Out

By Isabelle Lipkin

November 7, 2008 5 min read

WORK IT OUT

Exercising together may help strengthen your bond

Isabelle Lipkin

Creators News Service

It's hard to find enough time to spend together as a couple, never mind find enough time in a busy schedule to exercise.

Working out with your partner can be the perfect solution. Not only is it a way to stay healthy together, but it is also a great way to stay accountable toward fitness goals while challenging each other on new levels.

"Do it for a date night. It's nothing but positive," said trainer Peter Pereira, co-owner of Fit2Touch based in Toronto with his wife, Edna Marucelj. "You're spending time together, helping each other to be healthier, and connecting and touching throughout the entire workout. How can you not feel more intimate and connected with your partner afterwards?"

Pereira began collaborating with Marucelj on a workout routine for couples when they were both fitness trainers at the same gym. Stretching and sweating brought them closer together on many levels -- and the two are now newlyweds.

In their program, available on DVD and through their couples' boot camps, exercises require a partner's body weight for resistance or stretching. "You need the support of a partner in every way," Pereira said, adding that working out together gives couples the chance to strengthen a relationship as well as muscles by working as a team. And most of them end up laughing all along the way.

"It puts a whole new element into the relationship," said Mike Curry of Stronghold Fitness in Marina Del Rey, Calif. Curry specializes in training couples. "Your partner is sweating, you're sweating and you both get that same kind of endorphin rush."

This often leads to a boost in other types of energies couples share, noting that people tend to work out harder when someone they are attracted to is watching. "It's definitely a way to get more intimate," he said.

When Curry was dating his wife, they got to know each other through physical activity. They learned about each other by sharing weekend interests, such as playing beach volleyball -- her favorite sport, which he began to enjoy when they started playing together -- and taking long hikes.

"We were having so much fun together, and opened up by learning about the other without having to drill the person with questions," he recalled. "We'd talk through the hike and it made it much easier to get to know each other. It's a great way for dating couples connect on new levels."

Curry suggested finding activities that both partners enjoy doing in or outside the gym. If one person is reluctant, it's a way for couples to compromise and encourage each other through challenges.

"Working out together is part of the whole relationship," he said. "It's supposed to be challenging on all levels. If you work through any conflicts and resolve them, you value your partner even more. And if you enjoy the time together it can feel like it's not even work."

But what if one partner is more reluctant than the other, or they're simply at different fitness levels? According to Fabio Comana, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego, there are a few pitfalls of which to beware.

Partners should be careful not to offer too many "pointers" that can feel a little too pointed if they imply one person's skills are deficient. Couples should be in sync with their fitness goals and beware of being too competitive. "The 'let me show you how to do this' attitude men can have at the gym can come off as intimidating, even though their heart's in the right place," Comana said.

Another worrying moment can come if one person is losing weight more quickly than another, if this is a goal. Although this can be upsetting, it's important to encourage your partner through the struggle.

One idea is to go to the gym together, but do cardio at different paces, or separate while one lifts weights and one person does a yoga class. But if couples share similar goals, Comana said, it plays out positively, as they can motivate each other and share inspiration without doing an identical workout.

Whether it's a traditional gym workout or committing to a brisk morning walk or a ballroom dance class, the options for couples to strengthen their bodies as well as their bond are endless, as is the sense of mutual accomplishment in feeling more fit and meeting a common goal.

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