Work out as a couple. The couple that sweats together and stays together.
When people think of romantic venues, global hotspots like Paris, Bermuda or Fiji often top the list. But it turns out an even quicker trip, to the gym, may be your portal to improved physical and emotional intimacy. In fact, working out together side-by-side builds not only bigger muscles, but a stronger emotional bond.
"In any type of physical activity, endorphins and adrenaline are released, so you'll feel happier," says Stacy Kaiser, an LA-based psychotherapist and the resident advisor on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club, Tyra Banks and Greg Behrendt shows. The added benefit? Do it together, and you'll associate this insta-mood boost (think: runner's high) with your significant other. That, in turn, creates positive associations in the relationship.
Bringing your partner along also increases the odds you'll stick with the routine. "Everyone who joins the gym has great motivation in the beginning, then they lose it, explains Ralph Anastasio, general manager of The Printing House, a full-service health club in downtown New York City, "but working out with somebody boosts your attendance and your ability to reach your goals." The gym actually instituted a two-for-one policy to encourage the trend.
And fitness a deux doesn't have to mean a high-impact sport or monumental goal, like training for a marathon (though it might!). "Bowling, yoga or even horseback riding are great…anything that allows time for interaction," says Kaiser. The key is making the commitment together, and sticking with it. Below, three couples who are fit and happy share their workout secrets:
Couple #1: The Knockouts
Glynis and Adam
Age: early 30s
Location: New York, NY
Glynis and Adam began their routine in the ring long before they exchanged rings: Each week the couple, now approaching their third wedding anniversary, dons boxing gloves to spar against each other. "It relieves the week's stresses," says Glynis, a PR executive. "But it also brought this whole other dimension to the relationship. If you learn to trust your partner in the ring, that moves throughout your whole life." Another unexpected upshot: Trading blows bettered their sex life. "The training brings more passion to the relationship," explains Glynis. "We always have more energy afterward."
Couple #2: The Charity Cases
Katie Sloan and Frank Sweet
Age: Late 20s
Location: Birmingham, MI
If a better bod or a stronger relationship isn’t enough motivation to get off the couch, how about sweating for a cause bigger than the two of you? Last summer, Katie and her boyfriend Frank took part in a three-day, 300-mile charity bike marathon for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Detroit, where they teamed up in honor of a child. "It's exhilarating and rewarding," says Katie. "We raised $3,000 between the two of us!" Altogether, their team of 30 bikers raised over $200,000. The couple, who have been dating for three years, have even started to volunteer at other charity marathons as a result. Kaiser applauds twosomes who take on this "triple hit," as she puts it. "It's companionship, charity, and a workout all in one," she says.
Couple #3: The Committed Commuters
Margaret and Dan Zwiren
Age: Mid 60s and 70s respectively
Location: Staten Island, NY
Margaret and Dan found inspiration to live a healthier lifestyle because of each other. In fact, they're so devoted to gym-going, they endure a 40-minute commute from Staten Island to Manhattan three times a week, both admitting that they probably wouldn’t do it without the other. "[Working out] really brings you closer together," says Dan, who convinced his wife to join the club years ago as a Mother’s Day gift. "I admire her progress; she’s really motivated to go," he adds.
YourTango's Take: Working out together is one routine that can actually make a relationship sexier, and you have nothing to lose but the love handles!