Exercising as a couple can be fun – if it doesn’t kill you first.
Even before marriage, Sally and I weren’t quite in sync with our exercise. This should have been obvious the day Sally brought me a piece of cake while I was running on the treadmill. Then there was the time we played ultimate Frisbee with Sally’s friends; my heart beat like an over-caffeinated squirrel’s.
Now we’re newlyweds working to blend two lifestyles and create shared activities. Many young couples dream of this too but find, as we did, that it’s not easy.
Thankfully, our philosophy on fitness is similar. We’re somewhere between “I’ve been working out nonstop since the first moon landing” and “A workout for me is trying to decide between a jelly- or crème-filled doughnut.”
Still, the hurdles come in many forms.
First, there’s the fact that we’re married. That means two personalities, temperaments—and a slight difference called male and female.
For example, one of us prefers working out in the morning. The other (who, to protect her identity, will be called Sallie) actually burns most of her morning calories hitting the snooze button.
Bear attacks and chickpeas
Two people under one roof also means double the excuses not to exercise.
I wish my excuses carried at least a hint of bravado: “Sorry, Honey, I can’t go running today. I was attacked by a bear . . . that had a gun.”
Usually, it’s more like: “Ummm, aren’t we low on chickpeas? We’d better skip the gym and get to the store!”
Another hurdle is, well, life. Two sets of schedules, appointments and priorities get in the way. When we finally find the time to do something together, we’re inevitably confronted with an even bigger dilemma: What are we going to do? Finding something that qualifies as exercise and is enjoyable for both of us has been . . . an exercise.
Some couples don’t have this problem. You may see them jog by your house as you battle two thoughts:
- What a great role model those two are. If they can do it, we can do it!
- Where’s the hose? Somebody’s due for a soakin’.
DVD or GPS?
Sally and I have tried a variety of activities to find what works for us. Here are a few highlights:
- Sounds easy right? Well, if we walk too slow, I don’t feel like we’re exercising. If we walk at my pace, Sally is already running.
- Check back when I’m in better shape.
- This works but we’re rarely ‘together.’ I lift weights. Sally hits the aerobic equipment.
- Great idea! If we go when I’d like to, Sally thinks it’s too cold. If we go in the afternoon, I think it’s too hot or too late.
- OK, I’ll be honest. I have never seen Sally on her bike.
- Workout videos. Here’s a fact: Men are prohibited by a complex genetic code from exercising to a workout video. One night I agreed to try a tae bo DVD with Sally. She blazed through routines with precision while I moved around like I was being tickled in slow motion. At one point I had to watch frame by frame so I could figure out what was going on.
- Water sports. Sally grew up around lakes. Jumping in a pool and swimming equals fun. I prefer to stay out of water unless it means two words: hot shower. The last time I swam, it looked like somebody threw a crash test dummy in the pool.
- Another victory! If you don’t know how to do this, here’s the short version: Get a GPS and find stuff. But running while looking at your GPS carries a slight risk—like maybe falling off a cliff or into a river.
So why all the effort to stay active? Exercise offers tons of physical and emotional benefits, plus sharing any activity as a couple is always a plus. We can talk and spur each other on, and I can sweat and act manly in front of her.
So we’ll keep exercising together while trying to find the right combination of activities. Let me grab a cheeseburger and think about this for a while . . . oh, and we’re out of chickpeas.
Patrick Dunn and his wife, Sally, live in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they are probably not exercising at this moment.
© 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.
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