10 motivational tips to get your guy off the couch

What better way to show your love than giving the gift of better health this Father’s Day.
10 motivational tips to get your guy off the couch Getty Images

A year ago I wrote an article for about fitness gifts for Father’s Day and said “no ties.” That whole “no ties” thing still stands.

This year I want what I always want, mentioned in the above article: time. I want some guilt-free hours where I can ditch wife and kids and go for a nice long bike ride without having to cook, clean, mow or entertain. Bike + iPod = good.

But what if your guy is not into fitness? Why not use Father’s Day as a stepping off point to get him into shape?

Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you take an interest in fitness. And if your man doesn’t, I’m guessing you’d like it if he did. You’d like it if he was healthier, had more energy, had lower cholesterol and blood pressure and perhaps had a need to buy new (smaller) pants.

Keep in mind that behaviour change is an exceptionally difficult undertaking. The chances are it’s going to take effort to get your guy going and keep him that way. And truth be told, some nagging may be necessary, which is why I called upon Lisa Johnson and Greg Wymer for advice. Lisa, a fitness blogger and Pilates instructor admits there was some aggressive persuasion involved in getting her couch-loving husband, well, off the couch.

Greg was one of those guys who grew up slim and then developed a belly later on. “I’ve never had to worry about what I eat,” he told me. “But I have no chest. I’ve never enjoyed exercise for health’s sake. I’ll choose work I hate over exercise and I never ate veggies. As I hit my mid 40s I knew things were going downhill.” So Greg let Lisa whip him into shape...and they're still married!


Greg has done a series of guest posts on Lisa’s blog called The Reluctant Hubby that detail his journey towards fitness – with his wife pushing him along the way. On the blog he reveals a list of tips for any wife looking to put her man through the same transformation:

1. Be a role model. Your example will help him want to improve his fitness.

2. Be continuously encouraging. You can’t just tell your man you want him to get in shape and leave it at that.

3. Join in. If you’re the fit one, doing exercise with him will help provide additional motivation.

4. Start small and be patient. Years of couch sitting aren’t undone overnight.


5. Work through this as a team. Time management for exercise is the key ingredient to success.

6. Don’t use guilt. The guilt of not working out causes further lags in motivation. Just keep being supportive.

7. Take the lifelong approach. This isn’t about getting in shape for a beach vacation. Commit to helping your man improve fitness until death you do part.

8. Change what food is available in the house. The best way to prevent snacking on junk is to not let it be in the house. (I’ll second this one – I’m good with willpower and still have difficulty resisting any junk food that sneaks its way into the kitchen.)

9. Compliment his accomplishments. Even if he’s not losing weight, you can still show appreciation for his efforts. Give me lots of positive reinforcement.


10. Do your family meetings while walking. When the two of you need to talk – or just need alone time together – do it while you’re walking.The fact that you are not looking directly at each other may make it easier to communicate openly as well.

Bonus tip: Exercise just for fun. You don’t always have to be motivating him for reasons of fitness. Share in a common experience and enjoy each other.

Lisa says she never gave up on the quest to get her husband moving. "I explained it was important to me; it was a life or death decision deciding our quality of life for the next few decades," she recalls.

Greg's tips show you how to really give the gift of fitness beyond this Sunday. I suppose you could print off this article and hand it to your man this Father’s Day to let him know what’s coming, along with a nice steak and a beer.



James S. Fell, MBA, is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary. He writes the syndicated column “In-Your-Face Fitness” for the Chicago Tribune and consults with clients on strategic planning for fitness and health. Get your free Metabolism Report here.


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