Before you roll your eyes at the post title, let me make one thing clear: I am by no means advocating the excessive public displays of affection in the gym that many of us have grown to loathe over the years.
Phew. So now that that’s out of the way, allow me to explain what got me thinking about this.
The other day, my boyfriend (his name is Brett, by the way, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram should you be so inclined) and I realized that we’re coming up on five years of being a couple — four of which we’ve cohabitated. A lot has changed since we met, and some of the things I appreciate most about my life have evolved during the time we’ve been together. For example, we were both in university when we met, and while I’ve always taken an interest in nutrition and fitness, I hadn’t yet “seen the light.” I was a vegetarian (with a diet comprised primarily of packaged foods with flashy marketing that I thought were “healthy” – cereal, granola bars, soy milk…) and thought running and cardio now and then were the key to staying in shape. He was your average college male, surviving off microwave meals and takeout, but hadn’t hit a gym since high school. My, how times have changed!
I don’t remember exactly how or why we started going to the gym together, but one thing I do know is that we never looked back. Flash forward to today, and it’s literally a mainstay in our day-to-day lives. Further, we now look forward to it — and look forward to doing it together. Having been on both sides of the camp, it’s now easy to see the benefits of having a partner (swolemate?) and making activity — whether it’s walking, hiking, lifting, sprinting, sports, whatever — something you do (and enjoy) as a couple.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best reasons I think every couple should work out together:
1. Keep Each Other Motivated
Having a workout buddy means it’s more likely that you’ll actually show up, do what you say you’re going to do, and stick with it. Whether it’s convincing one another to go when you’re not in the mood or finding the time to exercise with a busy schedule, couples that work out together keep one another motivated to follow through.
2. Create a Ritual
Staying motivated to go work out gets much easier with time, especially once you’ve made it a habit or a ritual. This takes willpower out of the equation so that eventually, it just feels natural (and you miss it when you don’t have it!). For example, in our house, we wake up, put on a pot of coffee, catch up on our timelines (this is the source of my pre-6am tweets and snapchats ;)), then head to the gym or track together for our morning workout. Not only is this now the expected way that we start our days, it’s quality time we get to spend together before heading to work all day.
3. Have Fun
This is arguably the most important part! Working out together can — and should — be a lot of fun. There are playful elements hiding in nearly every workout, not to mention the range of sports and activities you can enjoy together beyond the gym or track. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself and each other!
4. Challenge Each Other
Couples that work out together challenge one another to do more: get another rep, try a heavier weight, go a little faster… and this challenge can make all the difference when it comes to both motivation and results. It’s also fun to try new workouts or exercises together, or take one another through your workouts. For example, I’ll do an upper body day for chest or back with Brett when I’m looking to switch up my routine, because he always challenges me to try something new, or go a little harder than I might on my own. Likewise, I love nothing more than taking him through one of my high-intensity leg days that are different than what he usually does, and seeing if he can keep up with me 😉
5. Always Have a Spot
Simple but critical, working out as a couple means you’ll always have a reliable spotter on hand so that you can do more of #4 — challenging yourself — without having to ask a stranger for a hand with a heavy weight or injuring yourself by accident.
6. Partake in Friendly Competition
In many ways, this is the embodiment of points #3 and #4. A little friendly competition can do wonders when it comes to upping the fun factor of your workout while increasing the challenge (and therefore, the results). For example, when Brett and I do sprints at the track or Citadel Hill, sometimes we’ll time ourselves to see who can finish the workout first. Or, we’ll compare with one another how much progress we’ve made when it comes to our max lifts. This makes us want to keep getting better while keeping things interesting at the same time.
7. Support Each Other
The process isn’t always sunshine and roses. There will be days when you’re dissatisfied with your workout — maybe you weren’t as fast as you hoped, or were able to lift as much as you usually do. And there will be days when you’ll be down on yourself — maybe you’re not seeing results as fast as you’d like, or you fell of track with your diet, or you weren’t able to get in as many workouts that week as you had hoped. Regardless, having a supportive partner who understands where you’re coming from can make all the difference in re-framing a negative mindset and helping you avoid pitfalls in the future. We’re often our own worst critics. Having someone who cares about you (and that sees the positive in you) support you, and vise versa, can make all the difference.
8. Enjoy the Results
I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a key benefit of working out as a couple — after all, some degree of physical attraction is what likely brought you together in the first place! I frankly don’t understand the mentality that some people have of “letting themselves go” once they get comfortable in a relationship, and this is all too common for couples that have been together for a long time. The bottom line is that taking care of yourself physically is an investment in your relationship. It demonstrates that you care about your partner, but further, that you care about yourself (it’s key not to lose sight of ourselves as individuals just because we’re in a pair). Laziness and complacency aren’t terribly attractive qualities in a partner, but energy and drive are — and the healthy, well-shaped physique that results certainly doesn’t hurt, either!
9. Boost Your Sex Life
This could be a whole post in and of itself 😉 but most couples that work out together will agree! Aside from supporting your physical attraction to one another (as detailed in #8), being active together contributes to better sex in a number of ways. First of all, the right types of exercise (especially when paired with a good diet, sleep, etc.) provide both men and women with healthy levels of testosterone, a hormone largely responsible for sex drive (i.e. want more sex, get more sex!). Secondly, being in better shape generally means you can do more about it with improved stamina and endurance (having to take a break to catch your breath or stop your heart from pounding out of your chest aren’t exactly turn-ons) and increased strength (what lady doesn’t like to be picked up and held from time to time?). Muscular strength and control can also lend to better orgasms for women and men. And frequent, amazing sex with your partner will pay dividends outside of the bedroom, reducing tension and stress, increasing bonding, improving mood and further contributing to better health. Beyond all of this, while not overtly sexual in nature, the physicality of working out together can be a turn on — between the sweat, pheromones and appreciation for the other’s physical ability and strength (I can’t be the only girlfriend that loves watching her boyfriend rhyme off a series of effortless-looking pull-ups, and conversely, my boyfriend can’t be the only guy that loves watching his girlfriend squat).
10. Commiserate Together
There are two universal truths that inspired this final point: 1) working out consistently and pushing yourself is going to result in muscle soreness that will leave you whining, and 2) people hate hearing you complain. But having a partner who is in the same boat as you means that you’ll always have a receptive, understanding outlet for all of the complaining you want to do about how you can’t lift your arms up to put on a shirt after all of those bench presses or how you’re unable to sit nor stand after that vicious leg day. As long as you’re ready to return the favour, you’ll always have an understanding, listening ear (as well as someone to laugh with!) for all of your DOMS struggles.
No more excuses, kids — get out there with your swolemate and get moving! As you’ve read, there’s nothing to lose and plenty to gain from giving it a shot. See for yourself the way engaging yourself physically translates to benefits in so many other areas of your life.