Whether you are a diehard CrossFitter, marathon runner, triathlete or just someone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle, going to the gym can sometimes be a struggle. When you feel the self-motivation to crawl to the gym or go out for that morning jog is lacking, it may be time to team up for a little extra motivation.
A workout partner may be just the punch you need to ramp up your workout routine, but before jumping into a workout partnership with your best friend or favorite guy, you want to make sure you're approaching it the right way. That's why we're bringing you the methods behind couples' workouts with bestselling author and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Steve Ettinger. In Ettinger’s recent children's book, Wallie Exercises, he shares his insights for workout partnership in a lighthearted manner, but don't assume these lessons are just for kids! These are the same insights he uses when customizing innovative workouts for couples and partners in his training sessions.
Check out Ettinger's take on working with couples, planning fitness routines, handling different attitudes in the gym and how he answers the question, “Does the couple that works out together, stay together?”
Benefits of couples fitness
Katelyn Chef (KC): Have you ever observed that it is easier for someone to stick to an exercise plan when paired with a partner instead of exercising alone?
Steve Ettinger (SE): It can be easier and more effective for someone to workout with the right partner. If you’re paired up with someone who’s less motivated, it can have the opposite effect.
KC: What are the biggest benefits of exercising in pairs?
SE: The biggest benefit of exercising in pairs is having an extra person to keep you accountable. Having some form of accountability greatly increases your chance of success.
Planning couples routines
KC: Do you find it easier or more difficult to plan fitness routines for couples as opposed to an individual?
SE: Planning a fitness routine for a couple becomes difficult when each person has a very different fitness level and/or goals. If a pair is fairly in sync and equally motivated, then it can be a lot of fun to plan their workouts.
KC: How do you go about planning an effective routine that works for and motivates both parties?
SE: There are a lot of instances where couples' workouts can be spilt into parts—half of the workout is together working on similar goals and [the other] half is doing completely different exercises to reach their individual benchmarks.
KC: What are some of the best workout exercises and/or routines for couples?
SE: My favorite exercise with couples always involves each person doing a separate exercise where the intensity is dependent on their partner. For example, one partner holds a plank while the other performs a set number of difficult exercises like a lunge, curl, and press. The longer it takes the partner doing the lunges, the longer the other person has to hold the plank.
KC: What about two friends who are exercising together (who aren’t romantically involved)?
SE: Whenever you work through an exercise like the one just mentioned, it is great because both people push each other. The difference between working out with a fiend as opposed to a romantic partner tends to be more noticeable in the dynamic between the pair than the workout itself.
Finding the right partnership
KC: Are there certain types of couples (with certain personality differences, perhaps) who shouldn’t workout together?
SE: If one partner is overly competitive and the other is much less intense it can definitely diminish the quality of the workout or be discouraging to one or both people. Most trainers give a free first session, which is usually enough to figure out if you can successfully workout with your significant other.
KC: What do you do when there’s one person excited about an exercise or program and the other person seems to be dragging their feet?
SE: A lot of times the person dragging their feet is either less comfortable with working out or hasn’t fully committed to the idea…yet. In these situations, I’ll often train the partners separately one or two days a week and together for the other sessions. As the more hesitant partner becomes more confident and comfortable, we’ll eventually train more together.
KC: For those who don’t have a partner, what advice could you give that person about finding someone to workout with?
SE: It is important to find someone who has similar goals and is equally motivated. Even if you’ve never been great at sticking to your workouts, having the desire will help you both keep each other mutually accountable.
KC: Have you noticed that “The couple that works out together, stays together?”
SE: Most couples that approach a trainer as the result of a mutual decision to get in shape, lose weight or train for a race, do really well together. In these situations, friendly competition during the workout and even some light trash talking can make the workouts better.
KC: How do you feel about matching workout outfits? Is it a gym “do” or “don’t”?
SE: Unless you’re training together for some sort of race as part of a team (e.g. triathlon), skip the matching outfits.
Grab the goods to make your couples workouts better
Even though matching outfits may be off limits when hitting the gym as a couple, that doesn't mean you can't relish in the couple time and really make it count. Put a little thought into how you approach your workouts and use the time to further your bond. To make it even better, try stocking up on products that are perfect for couples without being too matchy-matchy.
You know you should skip the lipstick before a workout session, but why not indulge in a little SPF 15 lip balm designed specifically for couples? With Naughty and Nice flavors, both you and your partner can layer it on so that when you sneak in a quick peck between sets, you'll share the thrill of a secret mix of flavors.
Skip the matching outfits, but grab these fun water bottles instead! You can use the "Hers," he can use the "His," and you both can refill your respective bottles from the "Ours" bottle. It may be a little sickeningly sweet, but come on, don't you sometimes want to be that couple? Plus, these bottles are perfect for the gym with an easy flip cap and stainless steel construction that prevents residual flavors from sticking around.
Push one another to be your very best in word and in deed... and consider picking up these sweat towels from Words to Sweat By, too. It'll be clear you shopped the same store, but with lots of fun sayings and colors to choose from, no one will accuse you of being twins at the gym. We love the pink "Strength. Compassion. Peace." towel for you and the navy "No excuses." towel for him.
Instead of packing two yoga mats and yoga bags to hit the gym, grab one oversized workout mat that's big enough to share! The 6-foot by 6-foot mat from Square 36 is perfect for everything from basic stretching to couples yoga, so have fun putting it to good use!
This one's all for you! After you break a sweat, a shower is a must, but the last thing you want to apply after a workout is a heavily-scented moisturizer. Keep things light and fresh with the new Pure Romance Body Dew in Green Tea. It will moisturize your skin and give it a sexy glisten without overwhelming your senses. It's the perfect way to remind your man that you may sweat sexy, but you clean up sexy, too!
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