Posts Tagged ‘working out


working out together

Reader W. H. writes:

Got any tips for working out with a significant other?

Dear W.H.:

Working out together seems like a great idea, and to some extent, it is — you are motivating each other, and that is awesome. But the fact is, matching your physical fitness goals with a partner you’re romantically invested in is actually hard. Personally, I hate working out with people, even if I am head over heels in love with them. The only person I’ve ever felt comfortable working out with was my twin sister. Since she lives over 2,000 miles away from me, I typically go to the gym alone and that is it.

working out

C'mon, babe, it'll be fun! Image: Ambro /

The fact is, we often fall in love with or at least date people who are not our “equals”, physically, mentally, or otherwise. Even if you’re both interested in physical fitness, chances are you don’t bench press the same amount, dance at the same level, or have the same ability to throw or catch a football. These latter aspects are things we tend to look for in a gym partner, not a life partner. This is fine — you probably don’t have the same work skills as your partner, either. Even if you work in the same office. Exact sameness is just not a priority for most humans.

Most of the couples I know who do go to the gym with their BF or GF split up to do their own things upon arrival — she hits the elliptical, he hits the bench press. I know a couple wherein the lady is a marathon runner and the dude is a body builder. They go to each other’s competitions to support each other, but don’t work out together.

That’s probably my top advice for you: go to the gym together and agree to meet up after an hour or so. You get all the benefits of having someone to spur you into working out without all the hang ups of working out with someone who is not your physical fitness match.

But there are definitely those couples who kiss each other between bicep sets, and talk to each other while they’re doing their abs. And there are those couples who run together. And I’m sure you can think of several couples who play tennis together or ride bikes together or whatever else. So it’s possible.

If you really want to work out with your partner, doing the same types of physical exertion, there are a few things I’d suggest you consider first.

What kind of workout are you looking for? For certain types of workouts, you need to have pretty much the same skills to workout with a partner. Running, swimming, hiking, biking, tennis… most two-person sports, etc., all fall into this category. My boyfriend runs a six-minute mile; I take twice that long. While we still run together from time to time, I often send him off ahead while I wheeze behind, because my lack of stamina doesn’t need to ruin his workout. If you and your partner don’t run at the same  speed or have a similar backhand, I would recommend going to the gym. At the gym, you can get on treadmills next to each other and run at different paces without losing each other, or lift different weights while still communing together. You could also join a sports team together, and play softball, kickball, or volleyball without having to be matched.

How similar are your workout goals? The biggest part of this component to consider is whether or not one of you actually doesn’t want to work out at all. In which case, dragging them to the gym will be futile. Don’t even bother. In order to work out at all, a person has to be willing to do so, period.

But there are subtler aspects to this question, too, though. If one of you is trying to slim down and the other is trying to bulk up, you could be slightly at odds. Diet and hormones have a lot of say in how our bodies look in the end, but people who are trying to lose weight tend to do more cardio and people who are trying to bulk up tend to do more bodybuilding. If your goals are similar, it’s a piece of cake; if your goals are different, you’re going to have to figure out a compromise — cardio one day, weight lifting the next, yoga together, spin class, etc.  Honestly, any type of exercise is good exercise, so unless you’re both really serious about your different goals, working out together shouldn’t be that hard.

Do you have matching levels of knowledge about the workout? Maybe she knows more about weights; maybe he knows more about cardio. Or vice versa. If you’re both pretty well-matched, then you can workout at the same things together (albeit at different levels, probably). Or you can take turns teaching each other about your specialty. I also like the idea of signing up for a class that doesn’t necessarily require a certain level of knowledge about the exercise. For instance, many yoga classes tend to have beginners and experts all mixed together, or spin classes give you your individual bike to work out on. This can help you vary your workout and broaden your love for your partner. Or it can make you hate each other endlessly. Which brings me to…

How patient are you with each other? This is actually the biggest part about working out with anyone. If you really cannot sit and wait for someone to understand something, or finish something, or do something right, you really shouldn’t be working out with them, even if you are so in love you can’t go anywhere without each other. How do you know if you’re capable of patience? Ask yourself the following:

– Do I ever feel the urge to hurt someone who I think is driving too slowly in traffic, has cut me off, or is otherwise inconveniencing my daily commute? (Or: Do I ever have road rage, even if I am not willing to admit it’s actually road rage?)

– Do I ever get unstoppably angry while standing in line?

– Do senior citizens and/or children annoy me? 

If your answer to any of the above questions is “yes”, I would not recommend you try to teach your spouse a workout routine, or how to play tennis, or how to pitch a baseball. Definitely split up when you head to the gym, even if you are similarly matched in terms of goals, knowledge, and fitness. Save yourselves. Love is not a salve for personality flaws. You might as well minimize them rather than exacerbate them in front of the person you ostensibly want to share your life with.

But if your answers to the above questions were no, then your ability to help your partner at the gym, or to accept their tips on your workout, might not be that big of a problem. Go ahead and run together, swim together, or lift weights together.

And lest we forget: there are other types of exercise that don’t involve leaving the house. Or the bedroom. If ya’ get my meaning. You can always just focus on making that aspect of the relationship a little bit more… intense.


bigger girls than boys

Reader G. P. writes:

I find myself working out a lot lately. While it’s great to be in good shape, I am afraid that I am getting stronger than my male counterparts. Do you think men can cope with it, or do you think they prefer softer, more lady-like bodies?

Dear G.P.:

Good on you for being healthy and working out. Bad on you for having guys in your life who are threatened by that, if those boys do indeed exist in your life. If you’re dating one, dump him immediately. And if it’s a real issue with the guy that you’re strong and healthy, then you don’t need to be friends with him, either.

Basically, girls are leveling the playing field with boys in lots of areas — education, work, and even sports. Most guys are pretty used to it. And if they’re not, they’re clearly not the right guys for you.


Well, you're not going to intimidate anyone with two-pound weights. Image: Ambro /

I took one of my Highly Unscientific Surveys to get some guy feedback on this. The basic response was that girls who are fit are awesome, sexy, and altogether attractive (at least physically). The guys who didn’t think fit girls were hot are the guys who aren’t particularly fit themselves. (Again, not the right type for you, so nothing to worry about.)

Most of the guys I talked to said that they would be less attracted to a girl who was stronger than them, but mostly because the girl would have to be huge in the first place. It’s not about competition — it’s just that most of these guys are attracted to smaller girls anyway. If you were merely stronger in proportion, i.e. for your weight and height you’re stronger than he is for his weight and height, it’d be another story.

What it came down to in my survey was that it’s the mindset that counts. If the girl is way, way more into working out than the guy, he’d lose interest. Probably the same way he’d lose interest if she was totally focused on doing anything he’s not really interested in — including video games, or TV shows, or poker, or whatever else. You have to have interests in common for a relationship to work out.

One friend said that it gets into his head when he has to keep up with his girlfriend at certain sports. “It doesn’t make her less attractive,” he said; “it just deals a blow to my pride.” But, he added, “I kind of like it. It’s new to me.”

Another said, “I find it hot when girls are better at sports than me.” Plus, he added, that if a girl was stronger or better than him at sports, it would push him to improve.

And that push towards improvement is what makes relationships worth having in the first place, anyway.

Finally, another friend said, “I don’t like girls who are super in shape. It means they don’t drink and smoke and hang out.”

Bottom line: if you’re a heavy duty body builder, then you may have a bit of trouble finding a guy in the general population who’s totally into your physique. (Or not — I’m sure there’s at least a fetish about it; and/or guys who are so secure in their masculinity they don’t mind a girl who’s built like that.) But being strong and fit is not going to hamper your ability to score a man. In fact, it’ll make it easier. Guys who like soft girls aren’t your type, so don’t worry about ’em.

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