Editor's Note: This is a special guest blog post from Jenna Anderson, a personal trainer with a writing passion in Kalispell, MT, where she guides people toward their goals everyday in person and online. You can connect with her at www.innerpowertraining.com. This is Part One in a two-part series on fitness and relationships.
Research has long since shown the benefits of exercise to every humans:
But, did you know those sweat sessions can be vital to your relationship too? And guys, I’m not just talking about the link between fitness and an improved sex life (though that’s a pretty good perk), but on your relationship as a whole? Research is beginning to show how couples who spend time in the gym together—or at least working toward a healthier lifestyle together—have healthier and more satisfying relationships.
Think back on the last time you saw your lady rocking her favorite outfit as though she could take on the world and feeling amazing? How well did you two interact? How good to you feel? How close did you two feel afterward (I don’t mean just sexually). Having fitness goals and actively working toward being the best and healthiest you in order to share a life with her not only produces a sense of well-being in yourself and boosts your own confidence, but also gives you both confidence in over-coming any obstacles and faith you can reach your relationship goals. Working out together can also build trust and unity, even if your workout programs are two different styles, and at the end of the session those feelings of self-worth and accomplishment carry over into your relationship and helps to foster closeness.
Translation: A stronger, more well-rounded relationship.
And with January and New Years Resolutions just around the corner there is no time like the present to either work to improve your already-healthy lifestyle in a few small ways or begin implementing a fitness plan. Now, guys, before you rush home to tell her you bought her a gym membership for you both (which will probably put you on thin ice), keep in mind, women handle fitness, weights, exercise, and motivation considerably different than men.
So, I’m going to give you a few DOs and DON’Ts to help you out.
DO start working out/implementing choices as a couple. Reference how you’ll feel better, use I sentences. Make sure this is a very positive thing, and also make sure your time is appropriate. Two days before her menstrual cycle begins after a week from hell at work and when she just wants to eat a pizza because she’s exhausted may not be the appropriate time to suggest a fitness regime. Chances are she’ll feel inadequate and criticized, and that’s not your goal. Instead, try suggesting it after you both have had an active afternoon, maybe a walk, a great meal, when you’re both feeling really good about yourselves. Also, suggest it in a positive light. How you want to spend a long and healthy life with her so you want to get your heart in shape by walking, and enjoy her company so perhaps she’ll walk with you. However you address it, be genuine in your desire to begin a program. And follow through for yourself.
DON’T haul her to the gym at the busiest time and force her back into the weight room with you (and don't just turn her loose if she’s never been there before and expect her to know what to do!). It’s busy, we women can be incredibly hard on how we judge ourselves, plus all those people and stimuli can make everything intimidating. Turning us loose and expecting us to know what to do can leave us bored on a treadmill for way to long, and have the opposite impact: we won’t want to come back.
DO find a time when she’s comfortable. This may be different from your time, but that’s okay, you two might have to try a few different times to see what works.
DON’T take her into the free weight room and teach her your bad form. I know, even as a veteran lifter it can seem easy to you, and you may have been doing it a certain way for years, but without proper training you may still not be doing it right. Women move and handle their bodies different, trying to teach her to bench press when she doesn’t know the basic mechanics of her body is looking to cause an injury. If you’re not a personal trainer you don’t know what to watch for or what mechanics to teach, and you risk injuring her.
DO suggest a boot camp or couples sessions with a personal trainer if she’s intimidated or nervous. I know plenty of women who want to work weights but are intimidated by the weight room and all the information available. A small group boot camp or a couple’s session with a personal trainer will help to build confidence, teach correct form, and give you both a program designed for your individual needs. Check into a good trainer. Your trainer should be versatile enough to ensure a challenging session for both you. Who knows what you’ll both learn. Another option is to get her a few private sessions with a trainer for some one-on-one.
DO check with your gym’s policy and see whether they offer a complimentary orientation with a trainer to show equipment and teach exercises. Also ask if there is a trainer on hand and available for questions, spotting, or form checks. Many gyms offer this and it’s a great way to make sure you’re both getting exactly when you need.
...AND SO MUCH MORE! These are just a few DOs and DON'Ts! Your path to fitness is going to take more than a few days to put into practice.
Whatever approach you take, keep in mind it’s the start which is important. Once you start and commit to a new habit, you’re already over the biggest challenge. Fitness can be overwhelming with where to start, but start small. Even if it’s just twenty-minutes, or a walk together. Overall, lab studies show couples who participate in an activity together report feeling more positively about their relationship and more in love with their partner.
Check back soon for PART TWO of this Fitness and Relationship series!