Couple’s workouts spice up fitness—and your partnership
Brendan Rolfe, DipA, PTS, NWS
Updated Feb 1, 2019
Can it save your relationship? Maybe. Can it save your life? Definitely! Working out with a partner (and not just beside them) can not only improve your heart health, but it can also enhance your mental and physical connection.
Are you and your partner lacking communication, feeling frustrated, maybe thinking of taking a break? Life, business, tennis, it doesn’t matter—research has shown that exercising with a partner can help alleviate the frustration that often leads to feelings of resentment, and improve communication and function in any kind of relationship.
Couples who sweat together, stay together
There is more to a relationship than just initial attraction. Sure, your partner’s trim physique may have caught your eye when you first met, but anyone that’s been in a committed relationship knows it takes a lot of work to keep that spark alive—and I’m not just talking about working on your pipes.
A recent study found that couples who exercised together not only reported more positive marital events and fewer negative events, but more importantly, had higher marital satisfaction rates on the days when they exercised together. I’m no Dr. Phil, but counselling may have just met its match.
In the words of Marvin Gaye, let’s get it on!
When it comes to matters of the heart, aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, and swimming, has been shown to be an effective training tool for cardiac health; however it’s far from being all your body needs.
Any fitness program is incomplete without resistance training to keep your heart, as well as your muscles and joints, functioning optimally. More and more research is also highlighting the benefits to mind and soul.
So how can you get the most bang from your workout? Bodyweight circuit-style training with a partner is a great option to spice up your fitness routine, your love life, and maybe even heal two hearts with one carefully aimed stone.
If you’re looking for a great way to break the tension or the ice, all can be overcome quickly once you get into this fun and unique partner sweat session, comprised of five exercises designed to get your heart racing.
Grab a broom, hold it horizontal. Boom! You now have what we in the fitness industry call a “dowel.”
Ask your partner to hold the dowel with hands as wide apart as possible, facing you; then grab the dowel with your hands just inside of theirs.
With this setup, your partner will be moving you; when it’s your turn to do the work, you will switch hand positions.
Each of you should start with feet as wide as possible. Your partner should keep feet planted, but you will be shuffling yours.
With slightly bent elbows, your partner should twist to their left side, with the intention of moving you all the way over; you will resist, but allow your partner to get you there.
Your partner will then rotate through the shoulders and try to move you all the way to their right. You will resist, but allow them to get you there.
Muscles targeted: shoulders, core, quads, glutes, hamstrings (2 sets of 10 repetitions per leg)
Get ready to have fun!
Your partner should start in a push-up position.
You will then grasp their ankles and lift them up to rest on your shoulders, while still stabilizing their ankles with your hands. It’s critical that your partner keep their arms, legs, and body as straight and stiff as possible.
You will then step back with your left leg, allowing your knee to come to a rest on the ground.
Finally, step your left leg back up to standing position.
Perform the same with your right leg. Once you have done 10 repetitions, change positions with your partner.
Side-Bridge Heart Fives
Muscles targeted: obliques, core, shoulders, back (2 sets of 10 repetitions per side)
Each partner should start in a side-bridge position, back-to-back, roughly a foot (30 cm) apart. A side-bridge position has the exerciser with their right or leg side exposed to the ground, feet stacked, elbow underneath their shoulder, but weight distributed throughout their forearm evenly.
Press your hip to the ceiling, so that the side of your bottom foot and your forearm are the only things touching the ground.
Once in this position, each partner should twist their chest toward the floor so they can reach their free arm underneath their bottom armpit to high-five their partner.
Then each partner should rotate their shoulders open to the ceiling; reach as high and as far back as possible to give a backhanded high-five to their partner.
Word to the wise, the lighter partner should go on top!
One partner will start, lying on their back, with knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
The other partner will be on top, with hands on the bottom person’s knees, and their knees in the bottom partner’s hands.
After saying a prayer if one partner is sweaty and slippery, you will take turns.
While the top person balances, the bottom person will do a chest press, by pushing their arms straight up in the air.
Once they’ve lowered their arms back to the ground in a controlled manner, the top partner will then do a push-up, while the bottom partner stabilizes.
If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can switch positions after you’ve completed the first set.
If you and your partner have workout ideas that really should go viral, tweet a video to @aliveHealth. We’d love to see how creative you can be!
Dancing into better mental, physical, and relational health
Dancing, at all stages of life, has been linked to enhanced cognitive function, physical performance, and feelings of happiness and satisfaction with the dancer’s partner.
There’s a style of dance for everyone, be it country-style line dancing, hip hop, ballroom, or what my wife and I frequently practise in the privacy of our own home: silly anything-goes impromptu dance-party style (you will never see video evidence of this).
You can go take a casual drop-in class at any rec centre, you can take structured lessons at a dance school, or you can just get ridiculous when your favourite song comes on at home. The point is, just dance, baby!
Brendan Rolfe, DipA, PTS, NWS
Brendan Rolfe, DipA, PTS, specializes in functional movement and athletic training in Vancouver, where he strives to bring healthy lifestyle choices to every household.