Working out together with your significant other is great, and we stand by that. Some will agree, some will disagree. We encourage it, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know when you start working out together.
These are things we’ve found out along the way, and things we wished we knew before we started. So here they all are, as real as possible. We wish you two good luck !
So what do you need to know when you start working out as a couple ?
Well, the gist of it would be that you can’t completely prepare for everything beforehand. Some things will be a surprise, and that’s just the way life goes.
However we can tell you that working out with your sweetheart is going to reveal a lot about you and your partner. Your relationship will be tested, and that’s a good thing.
We’ll discuss what you need to know in general, what you need to know about the equipment, when things go wrong, and so on. So let’s start with the general idea of working out together:
1. One of you will be more into it
This happens all the time, and it might change over time. For example when Dragos and I started working out together, there wasn’t much of a difference in enthusiasm . But as the weeks went on, my resolve started to waver.
Dragos was used to working out regularly and for longer periods of time. He graduated from a sports college and high school, so had a very good background.
I was not used to the idea of going to the gym or having sore muscles, so after the first few weeks some talks of ”should we go today ?” started coming up.
We can tell you that in our experience, the best thing to do there is to insist that you do show up, even if just for a half your. It’s more about teaching yourselves the idea of being active regularly, than the workout itself.
Of course the exercise matters, and it’s why you’re going. But even just showing up for 10 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of simple leg exercises will be great.
There will be times, of course, when you simply can’t go. And that’s alright, as long as you recognize them for what they are: moments when it’d be too much.
If you keep those few and far between, a little break is alright. Just make sure to set and keep a rhythm that you both can realistically do.
For example, we started with 3 times per week. Just to get used to the idea of leaving the house, starting to warm up to the gym itself, and kind of easing ourselves into it.
After the muscle soreness went away – it does, if you keep training – we upped it to 5 times per week, with only Monday and Thursday free.
You two can come up with your own schedule, but make it alright for you both.
2. One will have an easier time training than the other
Another thing that can happen, is that one of you will learn faster, or simply put on muscle and shed fat much faster or easier.
This can be due to metabolism differences, gender differences, age, the intensity of your training, the food you eat, and so on.
When this happened to us it wasn’t such a surprise, given Dragos’ background. But I still felt a little left behind. I could barely do 8 sit-ups together, and there was my boyfriend just breezing by with a whole set done already.
So what we recommend here is that you each take your time. If you need more time and practice with a machine,or learning the proper form with the free weights, do it.
Maybe one of you is good and learns fast how to properly hold a barbell for chest presses, but the other one is great at cardio and loves working up a good sweat.
Work on what you each need, and if one of you can teach the other, even better. You’re collaborating there, and it will help your relationship.
If need be, reach out to the gym trainers. Each gym normally has at least one dedicated trainer, who can help teach you whatever you need to learn. Those trainers are usually included in your membership fee, so you won’t need to pay them.
Do not contrast and compare. Look at your body, your fitness level, your stamina, and take into account where you’re starting from. Your partner has their own thing to do.
One thing to remember here: don’t be mean about it. Don’t be mean about learning faster and better than your partner and rubbing it in their face, and don’t be mean about being ‘behind’ them either. We all have our own paces and stories.
You’ll both reach greater levels in time. Just keep practicing, and you will both see great results.
3. You both need support, help each other out
We’re talking about emotional and physical support as well.
Emotional support is part of your relationship, of course. Your relationship needs to be kept in mind as well, and a small hand squeeze from your partner when you’re too tired will help.
Even them noticing that you’re trying extra-hard today on the treadmill will make you feel better about he effort you’ve put in. Even if it wasn’t for them, the appreciation matters and helps.
You both need emotional support, and make sure to keep the romance in the air, without annoying everyone at the gym.
When it comes to physical support, you really need to help each other out. You may need to spot each other when lifting heavier weights, or help tie weights to your partner’s legs for leg raises, or even strap their waist trimmer tight enough.
Whatever it is, you will need to help each other out. For example, some exercises can be done with your partner’s weight. Like push-ups, pull-ups, or sit-ups with your partner on your back after you develop some more muscle.
Maybe one of you will be able to notice something wrong in the other’s exercise, or point out some way they can make it more effective. You’ll be much more effective in a pair !
4. It’s OK to train differently, or different muscle groups from each other
You’d think that training with your sweetheart would mean you’re both doing the same sets. While you totally can, we don’t really recommend this.
We’ll tell you why, and you can choose how you want to work out.
When you’re sharing a machine or set of dumbbells, you’re certain no one else will be using them as well. Also, you’re close to your S.O. and that’s a bonus of its own, plus you can carry an entire conversation.
Another thing that happens is that you’re waiting for them to finish their reps, and that can take a while. Plus, you’ll often need different weights, so adjusting that every time you switch can be a hassle.
In our experience we found it easier if we worked on different machines, even if we were doing the same muscle groups that day.
This is because we have different movement speeds, Dragos does faster reps with longer breaks, while I do slower reps with shorter breaks between, and we lose the momentum if we wait around for each other to finish.
However we do check up on each other very often and stay mostly in the same area even if we work on different muscle groups.
If one of you has leg day, for example, and the other one would really just like to do cardio for the entire hour, that’s alright. Train whichever muscles you like, as long as you check up on each other, and settle on how long you want to stay at the gym.
Synchronizing will help keep things friendly and simple for both of you.
5. Setting goals together helps you stick to it
If you’re both aiming for a particular feat – like getting very toned, or maybe just losing some weight, or even just successfully going to the gym 3 times per week, set some goals. And celebrate them !
For example when Dragos and I started working out, we celebrated our first month of valid gym membership. The first month we finished like that, we took ourselves shopping for better gym accessories. We didn’t drop half our paycheck there, but we got some new and improved pieces.
When we finished our first year of working out together, we retook a photo that we were very proud of. Even if the differences weren’t sky-high, we felt very different.
Even something small like just reliving some memories from when you started, and comparing them to your current situation is a great way to celebrate.
Celebrating with carbs like donuts and ice cream will defeat the purpose, but it’s up to you and your S.O. to figure out how you want to celebrate.
Some examples of goals and milestones could be:
- your first month of working out together
- the first 10 lbs/4-5 kg shed by just working out
- the first inches/centimeters off your waistlines by workout
- your first photo at the beach in a bikini together
- getting a dress 3 sizes smaller than what you currently wear
Whatever you set as goals for yourselves, remember to check back on them, and see where you’re at. Depending on the goal, you could even use it as incentive to get yourselves out of torpor and into the gym.
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What should you do when obstacles come up ?
Obstacles do come up, whether we like it or not. We’ve hit them as well, and we’ll tell you how we got past them, and what you can do to make things easier.
Obstacles can be anything, from lack of discipline and determination, to sore muscles, to results not showing as fast as you wanted them to, and even some random bouts of laziness. Here’s what we’ve found:
1. Nagging or guilt tripping to bring your partner to the gym doesn’t work
Not only does it not work, you can actually get on their nerves very fast. Sure it might be very clear that you need to get to the gym, but there will be days when your partner doesn’t want to to. Or maybe you don’t want to go, and they’re the one insisting to go.
Whatever the case, the point is the same: don’t push your loved one. Sure you can insist on bringing them with you to the gym if you see they’re not entirely decided to stay home, but if after a couple of tries they still want to stay home, lay off.
Some days are just slow, and your partner might show up at the gym even just to do some light exercise. That’s fine, and it’s better than nothing. But if that’s the maximum they can give that day, then that’s it.
Worst case scenario, if one of you is too tired, they can just stay home and the other can go to the gym. No one will be upset over that.
2. Being supportive is a must
Especially if you’re going through a plateau period, where it looks and feels like you’re not gaining muscle anymore, or not losing any more weight. You’re making every effort, but it’s just not happening.
That can happen sometimes, and it’s always frustrating. So it’s important that you’re supportive towards each other, especially when times get tough.
Showing support can be something as small as a foot massage, and just hearing your partner out about what they’re going through.
Or cooking them a nutritious meal that will help them after a workout (usually something protein-based). It can be any show of support, as long as your partner knows you’re right there with them, and they will do the same for you.
3. Talk it out, most things are fixable
One of my biggest fears when I started working out with my boyfriend was that I wasn’t good enough in the gym. Everyone there was big and buff, lifting way more that I was, and doing much more sit-ups that I could.
So the first few weeks I was kind of scared to even walk out of the changing room, thinking everyone would look and laugh at me.
Obviously, no one did, and it took me weeks to have the courage to look around and figure that one out for myself. When I told Dragos about it, he assured me that most people go through that when they first enter a gym, and it goes away pretty fast.
Hearing that made me a bit angry at myself for not bringing it up sooner. I could’ve spared myself the awkwardness of the first few weeks if it’d just talked to him from the beginning and heard that it’s okay and no one even looks at anyone else at the gym anyway.
That’s just one example, maybe your cases are different. Maybe one of you has hip pain whenever you do a sit up, or elbow pain when you’re lifting some weight.
Talk about it, and tell your partner what’s wrong. Sometimes they might know what to do, or they might call the trainer for you to help you out.
Whatever the case is, talk to your partner about it, since there’s always a solution.
4. You can always find alternatives, if you need to
By this we mean that if your workout is straining a particular muscle, and you’re supposed to stop training it to let it recover, there are still some exercises you can do.
For example I love running on the treadmill for cardio, but one day when I was doing step jumps I managed to land very badly on one foot. We’re not sure exactly what went wrong there medically, but the part right below my knee felt very tender.
Running was no longer an option, and walking was very controlled for nearly a month. So my cardio routine seemed doomed since both running and the elliptical required the same movement.
So I turned to the stationary bike, since it doesn’t apply as much pressure on the knee. And that’s what I did, for an entire month, I biked for 10-15 minutes every time we went to the gym to supplement my cardio.
Dragos did the same when he overextended himself running as well.
The point is not to worry, ask your trainer what exercises you can do if this or that hurts, and they will help you out. Or if your schedule is the problem, that could be adjusted, or somethings moved around.
What if you’re both new to working out ?
Then there area few things you need to do differently, like:
1. Start by easing yourselves into the idea of working out
If you’ve been sedentary until now, suddenly working out might be too much after a few trips to the gym. So start by doing something active, every evening or morning, or whenever you’d like to work out.
This could be something simple like walking your dog for a whole hour and playing chase with him, it could be a bit of a hiking trip if you have some nature nearby, or maybe swimming if you’re fond of it. Skating is an option as well, as is roller blading, or dancing.
The goal is to train your body and mind to know that ”okay, this is active time” so that when your workout rolls around, you won’t shy away as much.
We recommend doing this for a couple of weeks, then actually going to the gym. You’ll be much more consistent with going after this.
2. Get a trainer to show you the proper form for exercises
Since you’re new to this, some exercises will be new as well and must be learned from scratch. Best to reach out to the trainer at the gym and ask him/her to help you on your first few weeks.
This way you will both learn together, and you will learn the correct form. Otherwise you can develop muscle pain from straining them at odd angles.
3. Aim to show up, not impress
The most important thing when starting to work out together, if you’re both new to it, is to actually show up. You know, as we know, that many people fail to show up after their first 3-4 visits, and that’d just be a shame.
So even if you’re not doing very much, not lifting very much, show up and do a little exercise. Even that will benefit your body, and your mind, since you’re teaching it the habit of returning to the gym and being active there.
There is no point in trying to lift very heavy weights until you’v had some training with the smaller ones, even if you do manage to lift them up a couple of times.
The strain on your body becomes visible only after a few days, but when it does you’ll know why lifting that weight wasn’t the best idea yet.
4. No one looks at you at the gym
I learned this on my own, but could’ve learned it much faster. The point is that everyone is focused on themselves at the gym, and they won’t really bother themselves with you.
And even if you and your partner (or even just one of you) are severely overweight, you’re a the gym to train and focus on yourselves, get into the best shape possible. Best to just do your sets and keep at it, until you see some great results.
Honestly the best results came after we stopped looking in the mirror for a while, and just got into this beautiful routine of healthy eating and working out.
What to know about sports accessories before your start
Especially if you’re new to working out, you’ll find this very useful. These are things we’ve figured out for ourselves along the way, so consider this a heads up before you even start.
1. Shoes are so important
You might think ”well duh” but hear us out. The shoes you get are supposed to have a wide, soft, light sole. Basically the simplest, lightest running shoes will do, as long as they are comfortable to run in.
The shoelaces must be the kind that stay tied easily, and don’t undo themselves at the worst possible moment.
So don’t skimp on the shoes, they will last you a long time. And don’g get yourselves something like converse shoes (like we did), or you’ll get some very sore feet.
2. Your clothes must be comfy and breathable
Go for the clothes that you feel comfortable in, but are also reasonably easy to get into. Of course a pair of tight running pants will not be as easy to get into as a pair of sweat pants. But the running pants let your sweat dry quickly, and are lightweight.
The same goes for shirts and sports bras. Keep them light, and breathable. You will sweat a lot and your clothes will stick to your bodies, so it’s important that they dry out easily.
A sports bra that has more than 2 straps is kind of pointless and doesn’t provide better support than a regular one. So keep things practical and make sure you get one that’s both tight and comfortable on you (aka does its job).
As for the material, you will often find them made with elastan, which is great since there’s a lot of turning and bending and asking your limbs to do many things. The clothes must be stretchy, and something like spandex, nylon, or polyester.
3. Have spares
At least 2 sets of workout clothes, since you’ll be washing them fairly often. A lot of sweat, a lot of washing, a lot of hanging up to dry. We have 2 sets as well, and we rotate them as needed.
Another thing to keep in mind is socks, have lots of pair of socks. You’ll be changing these every time you come from the gym.
They get very sweaty, and not changing them every time after a workout will stink up the shoes and you feet. So best to have around 5-8 pair to rotate.
4. Some sports accessories will be needed
While not entirely mandatory, they can make things much easier for you.
Something like weight gloves will keep your hands from developing dry skin where it rubs on the weights.
Waist trimmers help you sweat more, and more efficiently, so they help your overall cardio training.
Knee slips will protect your knees from too much strain during your workouts, since they keep the joint in place better.
We’ve looked around, and found the most appropriate accessories that would help you at the gym. You will have some accessories at the gym as well already provided, like exercise ball and stretching band or jumping rope.
But things like the clothes you decide on, the shoes, the waist trimmer, the yoga mat, and so on are all your decision.
This is a link to our recommended sports accessories page, there you’ll find several Amazon links for the products that are the best price-to-performance ratio, or very similar to what we use in our workouts as well.
What are some great ways to start working out with your significant other ?
You can start in a few ways, the most obvious one being to join a gym class. Thus you and your sweetheart will be in the same class, learning the same things, and maybe making some new friends along the way.
The benefit for that is that you have the trainer who will show you the basics, and you can ask pretty much anything you need to know, and they will show you.
Learning alongside an entire group will maybe help both of you get over the initial gym shyness, if that’s something that’s bothering you (I know it bothered me).
Another idea could be to join a crossfit group. It’s different from regular gym sessions, since it has no machines involved. Also the community in crossfit is a very close one, where you’ll get help very fast.
The trainings are different, since they use mostly free weights. However you can learn this with your partner since you’ll be using a combination of your own body weights and them some free weights, which will be easier to learn and combine.
Or, you can always start with a home gym. Make your own gym at home, whether you’re new to working out or not, having your own gym can be a bit of a luxury.
Set up a room in your house or apartment, or even just some space in a room, and you can adapt it to whatever you want to use. You can get yourselves a treadmill, some free weights, yoga mats and some ankle weights.
You’d be using a lot of your body weight, and supplementing that with the weights you’d get. Beginning with a home gym can be easier in a way, since there is always room. You can get yourselves in front of a laptop and work alongside some videos online.
Doesn’t matter if it rains or it’s too hot outside, your home is the best place to be.
We recommend joining a gym class, since the power of a group is wonderful for beginners, but if you’re aiming to focus on yourselves and to learn at your pace, you could go for the home gym.
If you do decide to set up your own gym, you can check out our Home Gym page. There you’ll find Amazon links for simple equipment you can order home, with fair price-to-performance ratios and great reviews.
It’s up to you to decide if you want to have a home gym or not, but in our experience it’s the more comfortable option out there. We’ve worked out at home before, and would recommend it to anyone.
With the addendum that you make sure you don’t get too distracted by the bed or he fridge, or take too many breaks.
Working out with your significant other is a great way to bond with them, and it’s something that has helped our relationship as well.
You’ll see improvements with yours as well, if you treat each other fairly and remember to help not criticize.
Also, one of the most important tips we can give you, although it belongs in another article, is that you can’t outrun a bad diet.
So please, please, take into account that a large part of your success when working out is dictated by what you eat. How much, how little, how nutritious, it all matters. For starters you can use our 10 day meal plan for couples, and get some inspiration from there.
Good luck !