How To Exercise As A Couple, Even At Different Fitness Levels

08/02/2016 6:38 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Man and woman laughing while doing push-ups

Unless you're Michelle Bridges and Steve 'Commando' Willis, exercising as a couple might not be on your list of top fun things to do this weekend.

Nevertheless, if you want to squeeze a workout into your busy schedule as well as spend time with your significant other, it could be a good way to kill two birds with one stone. (Or you could skip the whole idea and go for dinner, but that's a different article.)

So is it a good or bad idea to hit the gym with your better half?

"Sometimes couples can’t train together because it’s easy to get frustrated with your partner," personal trainer Justine Switalla told The Huffington Post Australia.

"A lot of the time, people find they can train with their friends quite well, but sometimes with a partner you are emotionally invested and that can lead to frustration, especially if you are competitive like me.

"For instance when I run with my husband, sometimes I'm like ‘Damn you for being faster than me!' But he has been playing professional rugby his whole life and so there’s no way I could ever out-run him."

Switalla also points out sometimes, even if both partners are into fitness, they might enjoy different activities.

"I think in that case, if you still really want to exercise together, you will need to alternate," Switalla said.

"You should each choose what your favourite things to do are -- the husband might like to go for runs, for instance. But if you go for a run one day, the next time it might be a yoga class and he will attend too. In other words, he has to show an interest in what she wants to do as well."

couple exercise

A couple who stretches together, stays together.

Or, on the other end of the spectrum, one half of the couple might be interested in fitness, whereas the other is more up for spending quality time with the couch. In this instance, Switalla says don't force it.

"From my experience, a lot of women find their husbands aren’t into it. I think women can be more self conscious and want to try and change, and while men might have some [health] issues they act like they don't care," Switalla said.

"But you have to realise, maybe he's not ready to make that change yet.

"It happens a lot -- so many times I hear husbands not supporting [their wives] and this can cause a lot of conflict.

"At the end of the day you don't want to force them to do something they don't want to do. Lead by example. Show you're committed. Be your own person and say, 'I'm going for a walk if you're coming or not.'

"In saying that, don't hold it against them if they stay at home. If you storm in and say 'you should have come with me' it's hardly an incentive for them to go next time."

For those really keen to exercise together, but might be at different levels of fitness, Switalla says there are a couple of options to look at.

"The first thing you can do together is invest in a personal trainer," Switalla said. "Any trained PT will know [the different requirements] for two levels of fitness and will cater the training to the individual person.

"So while you might train at the same time, you'll have the programs tailored to you. The man might lift heavier weights, for instance, or the woman might spend more time on things like lunges or squats while the man does the bench press and pull ups.

"This way, you are both being looked after at the same time, but also individually."

couple exercise

Your workout doesn't necessarily have to be high intensity.

For those not keen on the gym, another option is for the fitter person to get their fix of 'hard' exercise first before you join them.

"For example, I hate running, and I am not a good runner but my husband is really good," Switalla said. "So sometimes he will go for a run before I go for a run.

"So he will do his crazy run, get it out of his system, then come back for me and we will go together, and he will jog or walk or run with me."

Another option Switalla suggests is going for a swim in your local pool, or, failing that, taking it easy and going for a walk together.

"Swimming is a good option. You can go at your own pace, and you don’t have to feel so bad because you can still see your partner. Doing laps is definitely a good thing to do.

"Even walking is nice -- getting each other moving, going for a nice stroll around the neighbourhood. I know we love getting out with [our son] Leo in the pram and going for a walk and solving the world’s problems.

"It helps with stress and helps you find time to spend with each other while also being out and about."

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