Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Is Better Than One

Do you prefer to exercise alone, or with a partner? I’ll be honest, for the longest time I loved going to the gym alone. There was something about it just being a time for me, and a time to worry about my needs that made it a more relaxing and enjoyable experience. I could listen to whatever I wanted on my iPod, do my reps or my cardio, and then leave the gym.
Lately I have also tried to workout with others, and I find that it also has some added benefits. While training for my first half I did something I said that I would NEVER do – I ran with a partner. My friend Stephanie and I had the same goal in mind: to simply finish. After much back and forth conversation we decided to tackle our distance days together. While I thought it would be detrimental and get me out of “the zone”, working out with Steph helped me to achieve 10 miles, then 11 miles, and while we didn’t run the 12 miles together, talking afterward made the accomplishment more special. It was nice going through something like that with someone, and not alone. The day of the race, we both were able to celebrate our accomplishment together, too. It changed my outlook on working out with a partner.
This can also work if you have a significant other; however, I always recommend using caution on this one. Working out with my husband CAN bring us closer together; however, the two of us have a competitive spirit and I will admit that we do not like being criticized. We had tried running together while he was in training, and at that point I sucked at running. I mean I really sucked! I just hated it! So he was running with me at a snail’s pace while I felt like I was holding him back. He would have to stop and wait for me, or he would finish before me (again, I don’t like being beat). So, the running thing never worked out for us.  Then we tried RevAbs together. We both committed and did the workouts together, side by side.  Well, all was fun until an exercise involving weights started to show up at which point I politely let him know that he was lunging to the point where his knee was going over his toe…that ended that!  I thought that this was just not somewhere that we would ever see eye to eye on. The fact that he was a diver and I was a swimmer in throughout our lives would be just about as close as we would ever come to finding a common ground to relate on when it came to fitness. But, thankfully, I was wrong.
About a month ago I decided to start trying P90X, and I invited him a long for the ride on one condition: we did the workouts separately, BUT we completed the program together. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!  This workout program has totally brought us closer together as a couple!  While my husband is not as health conscious as I am, he has made a conscious effort to try new foods and really be a source of support.  This workout gives us more to talk about at dinner than just our work day.
 “How was your day?” 

                             “Eh..its work. You?” 

 “You know. Same old same old.”

Now it’s..

“OMG! So, the other day during Plyos I totally wacked my hand off the rafter. I had no idea I could jump that high” 

                              “Uuugh! I’ve done that too! Hey..what do you think about Ab RipperX?”

“Holy crap! I have done abs my whole life-that’s intense!”

                                  “Oh I know! Those Mason Twists…”

The conversation goes on and on. Sometimes we go from workout out, to remodeling the basement, and then on to some other semi-related topic. It has really opened up the door for us to grow in terms of communication. While we aren’t working out together, we are still completing something together.
I decided to look into this a little further and found a variety of articles that state the same: working out with your partner is beneficial to the relationship. The articles discussed running, yoga, and a variety of other exercises in which the connection between two people can grown when they complete them together, and I completely agree and believe that is true. Among just having company, working out with your partner allows for increased feelings of security and safety (they can either spot you in the gym, or make it so you are not alone), increased intimacy (hellooo! Working out releases chemicals in the brain that stimulate that activity), and an additional source of motivation. Let’s face it: who do most people want to have as their biggest cheerleader – their significant other!
I suggest stepping out of your comfort zone this week and working out with a partner, be it someone you are romantically involved with or just a friend. See if it works for you.  I would be interested to hear your comments about your experiences below!

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