The Couple Collaborative
A romantic twosome who pursue their fitness activities together. They may or may not do the same workout, but they block off time and space for being active as a couple.
Best for: Romantic partners who support each others’ goals; couples who need more quality time together and have trouble fitting it in their schedules; parents who can take advantage of childcare at the gym; anyone looking for a fun, active date.
Why it works: You’re most successful at reaching your goals when the people closest to you are on board — or, better yet, an integral part of the team. Scheduling is often easier with a partner, since you can carpool to the gym. All those endorphins and pheromones work to increase your attraction, too. “When you’re empathetic and praise your partner during a workout, it spills over into your relationship,” says Lombardo. You learn you can tackle anything as a team, and that makes for a stronger relationship.
Potential pitfalls: If either of you is given to bickering, bullying, pouting, competing too aggressively or sabotaging the other’s workouts, nobody’s going to benefit. Before you start a workout routine with your sweetheart, discuss how you’ll handle situations such as one person bailing or pushing too hard. Talk about your goals (shared and individual) and how you can best encourage one another. You might also make a “no criticism” rule during your workouts.
Success story: Shelagh Hodson, 61, a writer in Rochester, N.Y., has always walked to stay fit, but she took a fairly casual approach to her routine. “If I wanted to skip my daily walk, my excuse had to satisfy only me — and I was easy,” she says. When her husband’s joints became less tolerant of running a few years ago, he switched to walking with her. But he wanted to maintain a more rigorous pace than she was accustomed to. “Not only does he encourage me to go faster and farther than I might have, but he doesn’t make many excuses.” As a result, she skips fewer workouts and works harder than before. “I’m a lot fitter now than when I was walking alone!”
For other couples, like Stephen and Susann Paige of Tucson, Ariz., exercising together has built trust, respect and attraction. The Paiges have been married for 26 years and find time to exercise outdoors together several times a week, usually running, hiking or mountain biking. “Stephen is assured in his outdoor skills and I’ve learned to trust his instincts,” Susann says. “I bring a light-hearted approach and find what’s funny in situations. We rely on each other’s strengths.” Exercising together keeps them feeling good about themselves, and that translates to a stronger romantic spark, too. “Flirting along the way and comments like ‘nice quads’ keep us hot on each other’s tails, so to speak!”
Keep in mind, whether you’re currently working out with your spouse, a buddy or a whole passel of fitness pals, there’s no need to limit yourself to just one fitness partnership. You can hit the gym with your sweetie a couple of evenings a week, walk with a colleague over the lunch hour and ride trails with your cycle club on the weekends. The more people you have actively engaged in supporting your fitness efforts, Andersen says, the more likely you all are to enjoy the process, and the results.