I’ve mentioned before that overall health involves not only physical exercise and nutritional health, but emotional, spiritual, and environmental health. Exercising with a partner or group of people adds to the workout experience by impacting all of these aspects.
Working out with a friend, significant other, or small group of friends creates an atmosphere that is different than exercising alone.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you can get a great workout exercising alone if you are self-motivated. For me, it depends on what I am doing for exercise. Typically when I am doing a gym workout, I like to workout alone. Socializing makes it difficult for me to concentrate on my exercise form and intensity. If I workout with a partner, it is someone who has similar goals and expectations of the workout.
I must however have a partner when road running because I do not enjoy it. Whereas on a trail, I enjoy running with a partner just as much as alone. When I run alone in the woods there is a sense that I am not alone and it also requires more focus and concentration.
So depending on the exercise you might find it better to exercise with a partner or group especially if working out is a challenge for you in the first place.
The benefits of working out with a partner are many.
If you are just not feeling it one day, having a commitment to someone other than yourself drives you to make it happen.
Encouragement and Motivation
When you are in tune with your workout partner, you know how to encourage each other for one last rep or push at the end.
Improve Your Relationship
If you are working out with your significant other, you are spending quality time together. Be sure to keep your competitive spirits in check however! Be on the same page when it comes to competition and do not be tempted to push too far and injure yourself. In other words, keep your ego in check!
Get Fit Together and Have Fun
Working out with someone that has common goals and expectations is like being part of a team. You grow together, get fitter together, and have fun together.
Don’t push it however!
It is important to understand however, especially if you are trying to get your significant other to get fitter and healthier, that you don’t push it the idea with them. People will workout when they are ready. You can make subtle suggestions for different types of activity to see how it goes.
Ideas for working out with a partner
Go for a walk with your workout partner. Friends have an opportunity to catch up with each other. Put it on your calendar daily or weekly (preferably multiple days). Walking with your significant other, especially if one is fitter than the other, is a great way to introduce them to fitness without calling it fitness. The quality time you spend walking gives you a chance to check in with each other while you get fitter.
Try: Interval walking – when you are walking in a safe environment, try walking fast, then at a moderate pace. Walk fast for 20 seconds, then walk moderately for 20 seconds. Do 4 intervals, then walk at a recovery pace for 2 minutes, then repeat 1 or 2 more times. You can play with time variations, but give yourself a work:rest ratio of no less than 2:1 (ie 20 seconds vs 10 seconds, 20 seconds vs 20 seconds, 30 seconds vs 15 seconds, etc).
More intense that walking but depending on the intensity you can get a good conversation in or simply push it for a good training run. It is important to have a partner that is working with you at the pace you want to work. If you want an intense training run, work with someone that will not frustrate you but going to leisurely or accept that is where they are at. If you want a nice easy run mainly for conversation, run with a partner who has the similar goal.
Try: Running with a partner on a level safe trail in a park. Get outside and off the treadmill! There are so many health benefits to exercising outside in nature! The varying terrain adds to the challenge but be aware of your footing if the terrain is not even (i.e. roots, rocks, stumps, slippery leaves). The fresh air and conversation during such a run clears your head and helps you sleep good at night!
Snowshoeing in Winter
Rather than sit inside by the fire and each blue chips and salsa, go for a snowshoe hike. There are lots of places that rent snowshoes.
Try: Going for a nice snowshoe walk at night under the moonlight is an exceptional activity with your significant other. There are guided Meetup groups that do nighttime hikes. Follow it up with the fireplace and a glass of wine or hot cocoa.
Whether in your home or at a gym or class, you can plan your workouts together and work towards a common goal. If you are at the same fitness level, you can push each other to create an intense workout. Working out with a friend is satisfying and you can have a sense of accomplishment.
Working out with a significant other that is at the same fitness level many relationship benefits!
If you are not at the same level, you can experience the same relationship benefits but be sure to keep your egos in check! Agree before the workout if you are going to coach each other without judgement. Be coachable! Or just
Try: A partner body weight/band workout. Watch this column for a future post detailing a body weight workout or contact me for ideas.
Various recreational sports activities – take a class!
There are many recreational sports that you can choose from where you can participate with a partner. Skiing, golf, tennis, racquetball, exercise classes, yoga, tai chi, bowling, and many others. These are great opportunities to connect and learn something new.
Try: Take a lesson in a new sport or an exercise class to see if you like it. Many exercise class businesses offer trial classes. Some ski areas have an area where you can ski free as a beginner.
Physical activity, whatever it is, with a partner or significant other benefits your overall health in numerous ways. Give it a try! Contact me if you would like more information on trial exercise classes!