Scott and I don’t exercise well together.
He tries to “motivate” me, which typically ends in me losing my temper and flailing my arms all up in his face. (This once happened at a charity 5K in front of all of his co-workers. Whoops.)
I demand constant praise and encouragement, while he rolls his eyes and says “Do you think I ever got a personal cheerleader when I was wrestling? I expect you to do your best without any recognition.”
In Seattle, we used to take a kickboxing class together. Two people were assigned to each punching bag, and Scott and I repeatedly made the mistake of being partners. There was one particular move where we would stand on one foot, while kicking the bag with the other foot as we hopped clockwise around the perimeter of the bag. The direction the instructor cued was crucial as you were sharing the bag with someone else. Scott, who made a point of sacrificing all form so that he could donkey kick the bag as violently as possible, never seemed to pay attention to which direction he was supposed to be hopping in. By the fourth time I was kicked in the abdomen, I realized this was never going to work.
I’ve worked as a fitness instructor for four years, but have yet to convince Scott to attend one of my classes. “I think you’d really annoy me,” he explains. While I’m sure he’s right–I can’t help but fantasize about how amusing it would be to witness him awkwardly booty-shaking his way through a Turbo Kick class. Or to get in his face and yell at him for not doing burpees correctly. Although I’m sure his burpees are flawless. (Eye roll.)
we I have workout issues.
But lately, something strange has been happening.
Scott and I have been exercising together. And actually enjoying it. Never did I imagine such a thing to be possible!
If, like Scottrina, you have issues working on your fitness in tandem, not to worry! I’ve compiled a list of tips that have helped Scott and I go from exercise enemies to bicep curling bosom buddies.
1. Pretend you’re on a date.
In all reality, you are on a date. Getting your sweat on as a couple is a great way to spend time together, and increases your lovey-dovey pheromones. (Bow chika wow wow.)
But let’s imagine you’re on a dinner date. Would you try to outdo your partner’s outfit and then repeatedly ask them to tell you how hot you look? Would you order the same entrée and try to eat it faster than them? If they pointed out you had spaghetti sauce on your cheek would you lose your ‘ish and scream “All you ever do is criticize me!!!!!!”
Of course not! (Hopefully.)
So, try to think of your workout as a dinner date. Focus on doing your best, but don’t demand constant compliments. Compete against yourself, not your spouse. And if they offer a helpful suggestion? Take it graciously as opposed to biting their head off.
2. Keep your distance.
Scott and I recently joined a Cross Fit gym, and love having the opportunity to workout together, while still maintaining some space. I’m free to dead lift in the corner with my girlfriends while we giggle about wanting a Kardashian booty. Scott can dead lift in the other corner while grunting violently and setting a new personal record. Having breathing room is key — something tells me if I were giggling to Scott about my Kardashian booty dreams while he was trying to get his lift on, things wouldn’t have gone as smoothly.
3. Exercise on neutral ground.
I remember the first time Scott and I decided to work out together. After a year of zero physical activity (aside from racing for a good spot in line for the cafeteria soft serve machine) I asked Scott to walk me through a basic weightlifting circuit. He brought me to his wrestling room and whooped my non-Kardashian booty. The workout ended with me falling flat on my face during squats, the bar landing on top of my neck. As soon as I realized I hadn’t broken my nose, I was overcome with feelings of humiliation and inadequacy. I was on Scott’s turf, and I had failed miserably.
While Scott has yet to come to one of my classes, I’m assuming the experience would be similar. I think there’s a marital rule somewhere that spouse’s should never become their partner’s boot camp instructor. It’s a recipe for passive-aggressive dictatorship in the form of jumping jacks.
Keep the workout neutral. Try something that’s new to both of you! You’ll be learning and growing together as opposed to engaging in a exercise-induced power struggle. (Or breaking your nose in the wrestling room.)
4. Don’t try to be the Bobbsey Twins
You’re workout doesn’t need to be identical — in fact, it probably shouldn’t be. For the past month and a half, Scott and I have spent every evening out on the lake together. He logs a mile of open-water swimming while I float alongside him on our standup paddle board. While I initially came along to keep him from dying, it’s now become a sunset ritual I look forward to. Never in a million years would I be able to swim that far in the lake, but I really enjoy coming along on the SUP. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with Scott (and sometimes the dogs) while also getting a challenging core workout in.
5. Make it about YOU.
Your time at the gym should be for yourself, not your significant other. While exercising with each other is wonderful, it’s important to remember that you’re doing this because you enjoy it and want to better your health. I like to think of my workouts as a treat — I’m very fortunate to be healthy enough to engage in rigorous physical activity on a daily basis–a lot of people aren’t! It’s a fun way to clear my mind, detox my body, and improve my mood. It’s time out of the day that I dedicate to me.
Keeping this self-centered mentality has been vital. The minute I think of exercise as a way to impress or out-do Scott, the drama comes in. I get cranky. I whine when he doesn’t constantly shower me with compliments. I flail my arms and accuse him of calling me fat. (He’s never actually done this…but that doesn’t stop me from trying to yell at him for it.)
Katrina does not work out for Scott. Katrina works out for Katrina. (And for the all-powerful Kardashian booty. Obviously.)
There you have it. Five strategies I’ve used to peacefully workout with my husband. I’m curious — do you excercise with your significant other? Am I the only one that’s an uber-competitive jackhole when it comes to doing push ups alongside my spouse? I’d love to hear your tips, tricks, and of course, workout fight stories. Please tell me I’m not alone here…
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