Strengthening Bonds Through Fitness
Look no further than the other side of your bed for your latest source of exercise motivation. We’ve got
five tips for the best ways to create a mutual love of fitness in your home— no matter where you or your S.O. are starting from.
Sign up for a fun run
Having a mutual goal, like a 5K or obstacle-course run, is a great way to
stay on track (pardon the pun), even if you and your partner are of different fitness levels. “Keep up with the
communication to ensure you are both on the same page through the planning process,” advises Jeff McGuffin, who
as past chair of the Niagara Wing Fest helps oversee the planning team for the event’s Wing Fest 5km Fun Run.
For example, if one of you needs to take a break or slow to a walk during your runs leading up to the race, do it together. “Whether you finish running or walking, the main goal is to finish it together,” he says. “Goal number two is to have fun while doing it!”
Find a trainer who speaks both your languages
Hiring a coach to push you and your significant other through workouts can be a great way to keep you both motivated while saving money—for example, Poul Nielsen, president and owner of Nielsen Fitness Premium In-Home
Training, notes his company offers a 50 percent add-on for every client above the 1:1 ratio ($100 per session for one, $150 per session for two, etc.). That said, it can sometimes be difficult to find someone who meshes with both of your training styles.
“Only 10 percent of the population sticks with their exercise plan,” explains Nathalie Plamondon-Thomas, a fitness-focused speaker, master coach, and author. “It’s not because their trainers aren’t good, it’s because their clients aren’t motivated.” A consultation or sample session with your potential trainer should illustrate if they are adept at keeping you both on task—not just one of you.
Plamondon-Thomas notes that there are four main types of personalities and each responds best to different training styles. She explains most people—about 60 percent—are supporters; they respond to language like “Keep going!” and “You’re doing great!” Others may be leaders.
people who want to know the big picture (that is, what they need to do to get to their end goal) and to do as much work as possible in a single session. They may be influencers, very social creatures who may spend most of the session trying to high-five their coach and chat with their neighbours (not necessarily a bad thing, says Plamondon-Thomas— if that’s what they respond to, a trainer should try to work social breaks into each appointment). The last personality style is the thinker, which is a person who wants every exercise and modality explained to them, so they know exactly how every rep will benefit them. Finding a trainer who can tap into what motivates each of you while working out jointly is key.
Replace your dinner dates with workout dates
Nielsen says many of his clients look forward to working out with their partner—so much so that outside of their training sessions they will head to the gym to sweat it out together, sometimes in lieu of dinner or a movie. It could also be a great way to augment your couple’s therapy sessions. “Some of our couples might not be getting along at the start of a session, but by the end, they are laughing,” he points out.
Create a shared calendar
A digital schedule will keep you on track and give you something to look forward to if alerts are set at regular intervals leading up to each session. A training-specific chat group in which you send each other motivational gifs, articles, and videos can also go a long way in keeping you interested—no “can you pick up the dry cleaning” talk allowed!
Simply working out side-by-side can have its motivational benefits, but you can amp up your can-do attitude by including exercises that have you and your S.O. working together toward a common goal, says Nielsen. Try one or two of the following during your next gym session—don’t forget to cheer each other on!
Drop into a push-up position facing your partner and ask them to do the same. Bend your arms to lower your chest toward the ground; pause momentarily, then extend. At the top, lift your right hand and reach across your body to give your partner a high-five. Return to the start and repeat, alternating sides with each rep.
MEDICINE BALL BOUNCE PASS
Hold a medicine ball and stand facing your partner with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Push your hips back and bend your knees to sink into a squat. As you rise, lift your arms above your head and come up onto the balls of your feet; at the top, throw the ball to the ground, keeping your arms straight. Have your partner squat down to pick up the ball and perform the same motion
from the top. Repeat, alternating.
SIT-UP WITH RESISTANCE
Sit on the floor facing your partner, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Have your partner do the same so that your toes are touching. Grab a medicine ball or dumbbell and hold it in front of your chest. Lean back until your back touches the ground, then contract your abs and flex from your hips to come back up into the top position. Pass the weight to your partner at the top. Allow them to perform one rep and pass the ball back to you; repeat for your set.
RESISTED OVERHEAD PRESS
This is one of Nielsen’s favorites. Have one partner sit tall on a stability ball with their feet flat on the ground. The other partner should stand behind them. As the working partner presses their fists overhead from shoulder level, their partner should apply light but challenging resistance by pressing down on their hands. Make it difficult but not impossible to rise to full extension. Slowly lower to return to the start. When the set is through, switch positions and repeat.