With the couch, a snack and your favorite TV show at your fingertips, the thought of a night in with you and your partner may make going to the weight room sound like more of a chore than an enjoyable activity.
Although exercise is said to keep you healthy and release endorphins which make you happy, sometimes it can be hard to make time for it. While many make New Year’s resolutions to stay fit themselves, Theresa E DiDonato Ph.D. from Psychology Today writes that exercise may be more beneficial to start incorporating into your romantic relationship instead.
Erin and CJ Finley, Austin fitness influencers and couple, say exercise has always been an important aspect of their relationship and life. They say one of their keys to keeping exercise fun and fresh is by changing up their routines periodically.
“We are not the type of people who just have to go to the gym every single day and workout,” CJ says. “It is more like, what can we do today that is going to be fun for us? That way we are bettering ourselves, but we are also spending time with each other, building our relationship and keeping exercise fun.”
Carly and Kent McCoy, who have been married for almost three years and have been together for over a decade, say, in Austin, it is easy to find ways to exercise together rather than hitting the gym, from playing tennis to hiking at the Greenbelt.
“We try to stay active beyond just the conventional working out to keep us moving and have fun,” Carly says. “When the weather is nice, we will go on a run together or take our dogs on a long walk.”
According to DiDonato, working out as a couple not only improves your romantic relationship, but also your bond with the gym. Lab studies show couples report feeling more satisfied in a relationship after participating in a physical activity. Additionally, your efficiency in the gym may be significantly boosted under the concept that the mere presence of someone else affects the way you accomplish an activity.
Because there are so many different ways to exercise both inside and outside of the gym, the Finleys say there is really no right or wrong fitness routine. While CJ and Erin recognize their training regimens do not necessarily look the same because of the type of strength they want to build, it does not stop them from going to the gym together.
“I would say three fourths of the time, we are in the gym together doing our own exercises,” CJ says.
“Like he said, our styles are really different, and while I do mostly endurance training, I have seen the benefits of focusing on specific parts of your body to gain strength,” Erin added.
The McCoys also see the benefits of working out as a couple. After Carly began teaching at CorePower Yoga, the couple made it a routine to attend a yoga sculpt class at CorePower twice a week.
Kent and Carly say having a partner helps keep each other accountable in staying active. In addition, Carly says attending exercise classes each week gives them one more thing to talk about and share together.
“It’s almost like an all-morning date that we need to do together before we start our days away from each other,” Carly says. “And I’ll push him during certain parts of the class when he wants to quit and vice versa. I like that we balance it to where he can do his own thing, and I can do mine most of the week, but we have those two days together to share.”
Not only does exercising together provide accountability to be active and motivation to keep going during a workout, but it also has shown to translate into daily life together.
Kent says practicing accountability in exercise is the same as living life together.
“Working out is no different than doing yard work or paying bills or whatever you need to do,” Kent says. “Working out is just one facet of life, but it’s an accountability partner for every facet of life.”
In Erin and CJ’s relationship, Erin says she has noticed the way an active lifestyle impacts her daily life and interactions within a relationship.
“I use fitness and being healthy as a way to clear my mind,” Erin says. “I have noticed sometimes if I haven’t worked out, or I miss a day, I get a little more irritable or I will more likely be stressed out by certain things. It definitely helps me have a fresh, clear perspective in mind, and exercise helps me know I will be able to approach situations with clarity.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, physical activity stimulates brain chemicals which may leave you more relaxed and less anxious. Exercise is also shown to boost your endurance by delivering oxygen and nutrients to your body. In turn, this may lead to more positive interactions with your significant other.
CJ explains how daily activity improves a relationship by using the metaphor of filling a car up with gas.
“You want to be putting the best gasoline in your car, and exercising and eating right is the same thing,” CJ says. “Exercise helps every aspect of a relationship. It makes you healthy, which makes your relationship healthy, because if you are operating well and bringing your best self to your partner and vice versa, everything will be functioning right.”
Since Kent and Carly began making it a priority in their daily lives to work out, they have noticed the benefits of how physical activity has made it easier to get up and move rather than spend the evening on the couch.
“It’s kind of like, one thing leads to another,” Carly says. “When you’re working out, you start to eat healthier, and then you feel better and you’ve got more energy. And because you have more energy, you’re not sitting on the couch just watching TV. You are wanting to get up and go and move, and it just kind of trickles into this thing. Then, it kind of becomes a passion, and then it’s rooted in our relationship to stay active and do those things.”
“For us, it’s getting a workout and kind of helps the rest of just a healthy lifestyle,” Kent says. “It’s all about accountability — as [Matthew] McConaughey put it, ‘If you just break a sweat for an hour a day…’”