When Cameron Diaz left a downtown gym in LA a few years ago, it wasn’t her make-upfree face we noticed or her sweaty gym gear, it was her supersized bicep muscles. Although the Hollywood actress has long been known for her athletic figure, this was next level and we all knew why – her then weight-lifting, baseball-playing beau Alex Rodriguez. It didn’t take long before images emerged of Cam hauling tractor tyres, ropes and kettlebells as her chiselled partner watched from the sidelines.
While many of us would rather attend a double spinning session than sweat side-byside with our significant other, there could be something to it. A study from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University found that couples who worked out separately had a 43 percent drop-out rate over the course of a year compared to those who went to the gym together that had only a 6.3 percent drop-out rate. “Exercising with our partner gives us a workout buddy who can push and help us in ways that a friend may not,” says life coach Jacqueline Hurst (jacquelinehurst.com). “It helps a couple to get to know each other on a whole other level by seeing deeper into their character.” Still not convinced? YF investigates…
Hands up who’s ran a little faster or swam a little harder when a potential love interest is in eyeshot. Although you’ve already snagged him, working out with your partner pulls on the same emotional strings to give your motivation a much-needed boost. “Who doesn’t want to look hot for their partner? Exercising together can make us more motivated to get our health and fitness to a better level when we have our other half there watching us work,” Jacqueline says. Daunting? Perhaps. Beneficial? Definitely. As a time-poor nation, we love a multi-tasking concept and combining date night with achieving your fitness goals definitely kills two birds with one stone.
One person that knows all about mixing business with pleasure is celebrity personal trainer James Duigan. After creating health and fitness brand Bodyism (bodyism.co.uk), with wife Christiane, exercise became engrained in their life and relationship more than ever. “Chrissy and I really enjoy going on long walks together with our family and I often train her, but we also have separate likes and dislikes when it comes to exercise,” James says. “For example, Chrissy loves the Bodyism ballet classes and I enjoy surfing and yoga. I also train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu four times a week, which is a huge passion of mine. It’s important to have different interests from your other half.”
No love lost
Try Jacqueline’s top tips for a drama-free workout
Keep it friendly
A little competition is friendly but remember not to go into PT mode to avoid a row. Remember that you are both there to enjoy the gym and enjoy being with each other. It shouldn’t get competitive in a way that either of you start resenting or hurting each other!
Motivate each other
Use this opportunity to help each other reach their goals by rooting for each other – it’s a wonderful way to bond. Although it can be difficult to get the tone right, if one of you wants to give up, gently coaxing them to carry on will give them the boost they need to carry on.
If your partner is unable to do a certain exercise, don’t chastise or make fun, just move onto something you can both do together that creates closeness and fun. Always be kind and empathetic during the times you are working out and try to be considerate of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Help or hinder?
Doubling up may push you beyond your fitness limits, but will it also do the same for your relationship? “It really depends on your partnership with that person and whether or not you enjoy working out together – it might not be suitable for all couples,” James tell us. “For some, it could cause tension – some people are very specific about their workouts – and for others it could bring them closer together and strengthen their bond.” Although we may have the best intentions at heart, trying a couples workout can quickly become an emotional minefield. Luckily, Jacqueline says certain pitfalls can easily be avoided by aligning your goals; “Make sure that you both start from the same viewpoint. Working out together should be joyful where you are both helping each other to grow, not be a competitive, brash activity where one of you ends up in tears and the other has stormed out!” Sound familiar? Avoid a crossfit crossfire by being a support system whilst concentrating on your own goals. “Everyone is different and has different capabilities. If your partner is able to lift huge amounts of weight or can sprint really fast, this doesn’t mean that you should be trying to keep up with them or ‘beat’ them. Be aware of each other’s capabilities, respect them and then you will learn how to encourage each other to reach your goals,” James says.
Founder of Form Studios (formstudios.co.uk) Elissa el Hadj shares her favourite twosome training plan
1. Back to back squat
Start standing back to back with your partner, leaning your weight onto each other. Slowly lower yourselves down into a squat position and hold for 30 seconds to one minute
2. Catch and squat
Using a weighted ball, stand roughly 15 feet from each other and throw the ball to your partner whilst lowering into a squat. Whoever catches the ball also drops down into a squat before reverting back to a standing position and throwing. Continue until you’ve both completed 20 squats
3. Plank high 5s
Start in a plank position facing each other making sure your shoulders are aligned over your wrists, your knees are off the floor and your feet a little wider than hip width apart. Both take one hand off the floor and whilst balancing high five the other. Keep alternating for one minute
4. Leg throws
Begin with one of you lying on the floor with your partner standing behind you by your head. Reach behind and grasp your partners ankles whilst raising your legs straight up. Your standing partner then gently pushes your legs back down towards the floor. Using your abdominal strength, raise your legs back up to the starting position. Continue to do 20 to 50 throws depending on your strength
5. Boxing pad work
Boxing with your partner is a great form of exercise and stress reducer. It’s important that you both have some technical knowledge about holding the pads and boxing technique beforehand. Two minute intervals are recommended before switching it around}