Even if you like to pump iron or do aerobics by yourself, it’s still pleasant to work out with your significant other. But that doesn’t seem to happen much when it comes to the gym. You mostly see a man working out with another man, or a woman working out with another woman.
Yet even if your partner is not on the same level as you, training together in the gym can be fairly suggestive. You’re both sweating, and the muscles you’re both working on are pumped full of blood.
The big problem when it comes to a couple lifting weights together at the gym is — as you can easily guess — ego.
A man may feel less manly at the idea of others seeing him being trained by his bodybuilder wife. A woman may feel that her hunk of a man is expecting too much from her and is disappointed by the comparatively smaller amount of weight she can lift.
So the first part of training together is to tune out everyone else in the gym and connect only with each other. That may seem hard to do at first, but it becomes easier with each session. Plus, it helps to keep in mind that you can still train by yourself, but sharing a once-in-a-while workout together can become a treat for each of you.
Jonathan Precel, a well known strength and conditioning coach, has a knowledgeable site called Breakingmuscle.com. He recently wrote an article for his site about training as a couple.
It’s unfortunately geared to a man coaching his wife, but it’s also an unfortunate truth that when a man and woman come to the gym together, the male usually is the coach.
However, Precel says, “Remember, it’s one thing to know how to lift weights, and another thing entirely to know how to instruct someone. Unfortunately, too many people don’t understand that just because you lift doesn’t mean you know what you are doing.”
If one person is a gym novice, it’s a good idea to start off with a personal trainer coaching both of you. Both the knowledgeable one and the novice will each learn something. Make sure the trainer gives most of the attention to the gym newbie. If you are the expert of the couple, you can also even out many ego problems by asking the trainer to critique your technique in more technical exercises such as a squat, bench press or dead lift.
If the trainer reminds you or your partner that the spine needs to be kept straight, never bent over, you can make your training more of a shared experience by watching for this common mistake and warning each other if the backbone is curved during a lift. Remember that if any weight, including the weight of an empty bar, is being lifted from the floor, it should be lifted by the legs, not the back. Squat to pick up a weight, never bend over to lift with your back.
Precel also suggests praising your partner’s effort rather than their accomplishments. He writes, “Praising effort discourages negative feelings when a partner misses a lift or a workout because he or she no longer feels as if they have failed. Instead, your partner feels glad to have given it a go.”
So if your partner declines to come to the gym with you because they have to do this, that, or the other, don’t get snarky. Instead, say something like, ‘That’s OK, I know you’d come if you could.” Having a terrific attitude about your partner’s choice to not come with you will only make your invitation seem more inviting next time.