How to Workout With Your Partner (and not kill each other)

It’s a skill, trust me but I’m talking about today because I read a study this week that said if one spouse (but let’s just use partner from now on as the idea of marriage scares me) increases their exercise, the other is also much more likely to follow suit.

However, I have a word of warning should you be a couple emerging upon the exercise journey and deciding that running, cycling or visiting the gym can be something loving to do together. Yes, it can work brilliantly…… or, not.

Let’s explore something I call The Color 5k nightmare  experiment.

This Saturday night I will be running in the Color Run Night in London – alone. The Boyfriend might come with me and loiter about the venue but he’s not running it – why?

Because when we did try and run together he ended up with a torn shoulder and I ended up wanting to kill him.

The reason is, running is my thing, I’m not great at it, but I’m consistent and when I’m doing it I never compete with anyone but myself (and half the time I don’t even do that).

The Boyfriend however, is horribly competitive and as such, he was determined he was going to beat me in the run…despite the fact that I wasn’t racing him.

He went all gung ho with his training, caned it on a treadmill powering himself with his arms like a demon and ripped a shoulder muscle which took about a year to fix itself.

Despite this on the day, he sped off like a greyhound after a rabbit, while I pottered along taking in the scenery and I didn’t see him again until the finish.

He also ended up on the Facebook page of the run which I still haven’t heard the end of!

From this point on, I have decided that working out with your partner can only work if you stick to some ground rules.

  1. There must be no competitive workouts – unless you are both that kind of person.
  2. If you are not both that type of person, it’s safer if you do different sports
  3. The gym is a no eye-contact zone…..neither of you needs to see the other with lifting face while using the adductor machine*  or with sweat patches around certain bits of your body
  4. The exception to this rule is if you need to change the bar on the lat pulldown machine and normally have to stand on a box to do it and himself is nearby/or your partner is resting between sets on the machine you need to use to finish your workout, then you are allowed to invoke ‘Girlfriend Privilege’ and ask for help/chuck them off.
  5. One partner who loses weight as soon as they look at a gym machine must not gloat when that happens (or the other person will start to sneak sugar into meals when it’s their turn to do the cooking).
  6. Priority access to the washing machine must be given to the partner who has completely run out of gym kit. If the other one is doing the washing for both you, they will not ruin your expensive kit by breaking one of the cardinal gym kit washing rules.
  7. Unless said partner has a fitness qualification they must not comment on the other’s form, how hard you are working or that weird thing you do on the cable machine that makes everyone at the gym stare at you.
  8. Thou shalt not say ‘I don’t know why you spend 40 minutes on the cross-trainer when every study now says HIIT gets better results.’ just because you want to get home and lie on the sofa…. *Guilty As Charged Your Honour.
  9. When one half the couple decides to do something daft like run 13 miles around Disneyland (or, be even more silly and do something like the WDW Goofy Challenge), the other one needs to find a friend to go out with on a Friday night as a 10-mile training run with a hangover sucks.
  10. Said Disneyland runner should not expect partner to use up 10 days of their holiday and loads of money to come and cheer them on.  Oh, no hang on, this last one is just for me.

So, do you have fitness ground rules with your partner? Or do you work out happily in a world of flowers, bunnies and mutually supportive squat competitions or something? If so, what’s your secret?

Actually, just skip the adductor machine full stop. It doesn’t actually do anything vaguely useful. You’re better off doing something like squats that tone the whole of your thigh and butt.

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

1 thought on “How to Workout With Your Partner (and not kill each other)”

  1. My husband (AKA The Support Team agreed to our annual holiday being Florida so that I could do a Disney run. He’s ok about an attempt at the Chateau to Coast medal next year too! He goes to the gym while I do training runs & he has no intention of taking up running. He’s my chauffeur to & from half marathons. Works fine for me!


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