By Tom DiChiara
A dream date with your significant other probably does not involve the following: grunting through sets of bench press together, synchronizing your Downward Dog poses in a yoga class, or sprinting side by side to the finish line of a half-marathon. But those very things might be exactly what your body -- and your relationship -- really need.
Working out as a couple can motivate you both to get off the couch and stick with a training regimen. Plus, you'll have the opportunity to spend quality time with your partner -- and who doesn't want that?
But... we don't like the same types of exercise and we have different fitness goals. One of you likes to lift weights; the other would rather take a Pilates class. One wants to pack on muscle; the other wants to slim down. So, whose workout preferences should win out? The answer -- and this is key to pretty much everything in a relationship -- is compromise. "Women shouldn't shy away from trying to develop upper-body strength with a weight-lifting regimen," says Sean Fortune, a certified personal trainer and running coach in New York City. "And men shouldn't steer clear of yoga and things like that; [they] will help with flexibility and core strength, which is beneficial for anything you do physically."
Switching up your routine delivers the crucial benefit of balance. "Incorporating different kinds of exercise will help you become healthier overall," Fortune says. "And that should be everyone's goal."
But... I'm more productive when I work out solo. This might be true for a single workout session, but research shows that having a training partner boosts motivation over the long haul. Studies have found that subjects who exercise with a slightly more athletic partner (virtual or not) improve their workout duration and intensity by 100 to 200 percent. Research also shows that, for better or worse, spouses mirror each other's habits when it comes to things like diet, exercise and smoking. So if one partner works out, the other one's more likely to, also.
But... we're not at the same fitness level. In any relationship, one person is likely to be at least marginally fitter than the other, so this where signing up for a class together can come in handy. "Find something you can do together where you can each dial the workout to your fitness level," recommends Fortune. Yoga, Pilates, boxing and spin classes are just a few of the options that allow for this. You can tweak your running routine as well: Just hop on adjacent treadmills and chat while you run (at wildly different paces, if you so choose).
But... exercise is my break from my significant other. If you really need a time-out from the person you love most on this earth, you don't have to work out with them every day. But marriage and relationship psychotherapists suggest that couples' workouts provide plenty of benefits on the relationship front. If you exercise together, you'll build mutual feelings of cooperation and appreciation. The combination of stress relief, endorphins, energy and increased self-esteem resulting from exercise can put you in a better mood and increase your sex drive. So who knows? You may just want to get in an after-workout workout.