Variety is the spice of life, and exercising with your loved one has surprising benefits. Your partner’s different style will encourage you to vary your own routine, making you use your muscles in new ways, and exercising together also will give you some fun moments to share.
Share Your Routine With Your Loved One
We are with trainer Eric Slayton, who has been a marathon triathlete, and pro trainer Cynthia Fieldus, who has a BFA degree in dance and has been a professional modern dancer.
Male and Female Styles
Both instructors acknowledge that men and women have their own territories in the fitness club. “Most women prefer dancing in aerobics classes, while men often prefer lifting weights in the gym,” says Cynthia.
She explains how women want to burn fat and avoid building too much muscle. “They work on treadmills, bikes and stairmasters for long periods of time. They enjoy a lot of variety in their routines.”
Men, on the other hand, like to master one machine and don’t relinquish it easily. “They want a high resistance workout for a shorter period of time,” says Eric.
These are traditional approaches. But together you can break the stereotypes.
Exercise, Nutrition & Diet: New Ideas
Knowledge about nutrition and exercise is changing dramatically. For example, studies on physical and emotional health have made the philosophy of "no pain-no gain" seem outmoded. Regular exercise of a light to moderate nature is proving more beneficial to maintaining strength, flexibility, and weight, while preventing injuries that can occur during more rigorous exercise.
Another example of changing ideas concerns dieting. “The old school of dieting focused only on cutting calories,” says Eric. “But now we know that’s not the way to do it. We have a lot of women who are serious about losing weight and then practically don’t eat at all. But after losing some fat, you also start to lose muscle tissue. As a defense, your metabolism slows down.”
“That’s why,” adds Cynthia, “when you want to lose weight it’s not good to go on a low-calorie diet, because you will be losing muscle and slowing down your metabolism.”
Here’s the paradox: “Your body will simply demand fewer calories to maintain weight — so you’ll have trouble shedding pounds. To lose weight, you should instead boost your metabolism by building your muscles through exercise, while eating a balanced diet low in fat.”
Of course, then you may be surprised when you step on the scale. Says Eric,“You feel better, you look better, your clothes fit better, but you’ve gained weight! Muscle weighs more than fat. If you look and feel better, that’s what we go for: a good muscles-to-fat ratio. Then your body will burn calories faster.”
Now we are learning that good health is about balance. Because old habits die hard, it’s a great idea for you and your mate to learn from each other.
Do It Together
“We’ve discovered,” explains Cynthia, “that the more variety there is in your program, the better off you are. That’s why it’s so important for men and women to share their different approaches and benefit from each other’s style. Strange as it might sound, a lot of the fun of exercising together is spot-checking each other. Once your turn is over, you get to watch him suffer through it! It gives the routine a kind of twist.”
There are many different routines to try together, including weight machines of all types and cardiovascular activities such as aerobics, stairmasters, treadmills, jogging, even boxing.
Strength ... Plus Flexibility & Rhythm
“Men may typically know more about the control and techniques of weight training,” says Eric, “but women know about form, flexibility, and rhythm. As partners, you can encourage a better, more extensive routine. Also, whenever you modify your workout it helps protect you against injury. You never want your body to become too conditioned to any one thing.”
Cynthia and Eric remind us that the morning is the best time of the day to build an exercise routine. “There just aren’t as many distractions as in the evening. People who work out in the mornings stick with their routines longer.”
Contrary to popular notions, “you should not wake up and begin stretching right away!” Nor should you start by first pumping iron or doing aerobics. You should begin by doing big open movements, to bring your body temperature up. You don’t want to stretch if you’re cold, because your muscles are more prone to being pulled.
“Then, begin with an easy routine to get the circulation going. Do some bends and some larger, ballet-style movements. From there, move into light aerobics. “Mirroring each other can help with form and will keep you from pushing yourself too hard.”
Morning exercises can include stretches followed by sit-ups and leg lifts. You can work your upper bodies with pushups, weights, thera-resistance bands and bench presses. Cynthia wants everyone to remember that routines shouldn’t be ‘routine.’ “Sometimes people just need to turn on the radio and dance around the room, or pick up a jump rope, a pair of rollerblades or a bike — and go outside!
“That’s why working out with a partner is so great. It’s fun! It’s not an appointment with your trainer. It’s your buddy and you’re enjoying time together, while varying your exercise routine.”
Studies confirm that people who integrate exercise with a mate enjoy their routines for life. It’s more like play. “This is what our bodies were made for!”