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Sure it might be tempting to eat an entire box of chocolates, splurge on a romantic dinner or skip the gym in favor of a movie this Valentine's Day, but you don’t have to let your love life derail your plans to get fit this year. With these workout ideas for couples, you and your partner can spend quality time together while you stay on track to reaching your goals in February and beyond.
The Benefits of Exercising with Your Partner
The two of you may be at different fitness levels and have different goals, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise together. There are plenty of reasons to give it a try:
Safety. With someone else watching your form and being there to spot you when you need it, you’ll exercise more safely than if you were alone. Besides, who cares more about your safety than your soulmate?
Quality time. Couples spend most of their time apart due to careers and other responsibilities. Instead of hitting the gym alone, plan a workout time that fits both of your schedules. You’ll reach your fitness goals, without sacrificing that one-on-one time that every partnership needs.
A common interest. Add exercise to your list of shared interests and hobbies. The possibility for new, unique activities is endless and keeps things exciting. You can never have too much in common.
Motivation and support. Getting encouragement and praise from your partner is one of the best motivators. It’ll help both of you remain consistent and take care of one another.
A deeper bond. Exercise produces chemicals in the brain that evoke feelings of happiness, reduce stress, and also increase arousal and libido. Several studies show that men and women who exercise regularly report better (and more frequent) sex with their partners.
Respect and pride. Taking care of your body and your health shows the person you care about that you want to be your best for them—and that you want to be around for years to come.
Balance. In many couples, one partner tends to favor cardio (typically women) while the other tends to favor strength training (typically men). By working out together you can balance your workout program to include more of both. Let your partner teach you about the areas of fitness you’re unsure of and be open to new fitness experiences.
Wondering how working out as a couple might work in the real world—especially when you’re both at different fitness levels? Here are some great ideas to get you started:
Sign up for a class together. While a class like salsa dancing is perfect for couples, other classes will work just as well. Consider trying something new that interests you both: martial arts, an indoor climbing clinic, yoga (including Partner Yoga), 5K training, adult swim lessons, or other sports.
Do cardio that allows you both to work at your own intensity level. Group classes like Spinning (indoor cycling) allow each participant to cater the workout to their fitness level, meaning that you both get the workout you want—easy, challenging, or somewhere in the middle.
Do cardio side-by-side. At the gym, simply pick two cardio machines next to each other and work towards your individual goals. You’ll be together but can each work at your own speed, intensity, incline and resistance level.
When walking or jogging outside, try intervals. If you are a slow jogger and your significant other is faster, intervals will be perfect for both of you. Work at one partner’s faster pace for a few minutes, and then recover at the other person’s slower pace. Intervals are also a great way to improve your fitness level and speed over time. Before you know it, you’ll both be able to work at the same pace together.
When strength training at the gym, "work in" (switch places) with one another between sets. About 90 seconds of rest between sets is beneficial anyway. So while you rest, your partner can complete one set of the exercise. Switching the weights to your own level is quick and easy to do on most machines. Another time-saving option is to use dumbbells, so that you don’t have to constantly add and remove weight plates when switching between sets.
Stretch together. Assisted stretching has major benefits for your flexibility. Giving your partner a gentle tug or soft push in one direction can be helpful—just don’t overdo it.
Enjoy the great outdoors. Create a more active lifestyle together by picking up new hobbies. While these may not always count as traditional cardio or strength training, every bit of activity you do will benefit your body and your health. Geocaching, hiking, canoeing, tossing a football, recreational cycling, rafting, camping, and just enjoying a nice, leisurely walk at the end of the day—all of these beat an evening in front of the TV.
Change it up. Try your partner’s exercise ideas just as you want them to try yours. If you have trouble agreeing, compromise. Do your walking routine on one day, and your partner’s upper body strength routine the next, for example. Be open-minded, but keep your partner’s needs (fitness level, goals, comfort level) in mind too.
A Quickie Couple Workout
Here is a sample plan with exercises and stretches that you can do anywhere together, while both getting a workout suited to your level. This circuit-based workout involves quickly transitioning between strength exercises to increase the aerobic quality of the workout. You can both do these exercises simultaneously, without resting in between—talk about a quick workout!
Spend five minutes warming up before your workout and cooling down afterwards. Try walking on the treadmill, outside, or marching in place.
Exercises: Try 8-15 repetitions of each exercise below. Each person should work at their own level, using either the easy, intermediate, or advanced version (each exercise is listed in this order). Complete the whole circuit up to three times.
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health promotion and education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.
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