Double or nothing: does training together as a couple actually work?

Share the pain

Text: Yeong Sassall

You've most likely heard the fitspo term 'Couples that train together, stay together'

Well, in my opinion, apart from the fact that it sounds cute and it rhymes – there's no real truth to the statement. Until recently, I've never really enjoyed working out with any of my previous partners. I found that as the comfort level of the relationship increased, there was a subsequent decrease in effort, leading to my frustration, and their resentment. 

We all know about the plethora of physiological and psychological benefits that come from exercising, but I believe that magic happens in a relationship when both partners share the healthy habits of regular exercise, good quality nutrition and adequate sleep.

This doesn't mean that you have to be the gym junkie or sport model types, either. In fact, it could be more beneficial not to be, because low-calorie restrictive diets hardly bode well for any relationship. But having a relationship anchored in healthy habits is one of the key reasons we call it a 'healthy relationship'. The trick is finding a common (training) ground - and then you can relax and enjoy the feel-good hormones released during training!    

Here's a few lessons I've learned about successfully training with your partner:

1. Try before you buy
Go on a few trial 'date' sessions together. If you're a guy who only lifts, maybe head to a yoga session with your girlfriend - just try to be open and flexible (pardon the pun) to the process.  One way or another, you'll quickly find out whether it's a training match made in heaven, or something that should've been left as a one-time fling.

2. Don't compete and compare
Guys like to be seen as the hero. This results in us getting overly competitive for no reason other than to feel like more of a man. For the best outcome - just like in your romantic life - your training relationship should be one where you grow and strengthen together.

3. Make it about 'we' not 'me' 
Sweating it out together is one of the easiest ways to get off your phones for an hour and get in some quality 'us' time. Sure, most of the session could see you as a sweaty, breathless mess, but there's a lot to be said about sharing and the pain of a workout together. 

4. Accountability
This one's a doubled-edged sword. On the one hand, it can improve your physical wellbeing by having someone to support and encourage you. On the other, it could leave you mentally scarred and treading on eggshells every time you want to have a glass of vino.

My suggestion? Just like in your relationship, be honest and upfront from the very beginning as to how serious both your health goals really are.

5. Exercise design
Do things that bring you closer, not further apart! A quality workout should give you a sense of trust that your partner has got your back, whether in life... or simply during a pull-up.  

Bad workout: one that makes the other person feel inferior, insecure or out of sync.
Good workout: one that builds a sense of trust, equality and synchronicity.

For example, don't go out for a long run if one of you competes in marathons and the other can barely conquer the stairs at work. Do you really think running would bring you closer together? When designing a workout think 'win-win' and not 'how to lose a partner in three kilometres'.

And just remember, if your joint venture ends up causing McEnroe-worthy tantrums instead of endorphin-induced bliss, rest assured you can always stick to training together in the bedroom instead...