Workout routine for couples: Fight flab as a team

Tips on how couples can motivate each other to get in shape
By James S. Fell

workout routine couples, exercise routine couples Masterfile

If that guy next to you with the twinkle in his eye is also sporting some flab around his midsection, and you’d like it if there was a little “less” of him to love, then a winning strategy might be to give him less of you to love too.

Confused? What I’m talking about is creating a healthy relationship, and by healthy I don’t just mean foot rubs, date nights, and weekends away, but working as a team to achieve your health and fitness goals.

If he’s got some added poundage, and perhaps you do as well, there is a terrific motivational aspect to making getting in shape a joint effort. It’s called extrinsic motivation, meaning there is either a tangible reward or a pressure to do something. In the case of a spouse, you can provide both rewards and pressures on each other for healthy living.

Here are some concrete tips:

Take ownership of this, or not
There are two ways you can go about this, and it all depends on you and your relationship. Option one is to basically pretend like you never read this article and just use a bit of gentle female manipulation to encourage your man to do something fun with you and just keep on pushing it in little increments from there. Sure, “manipulation” isn’t exactly a nice word, but this is the good kind. If you think he’d balk at the planned approach, then consider owning this plan yourself, and getting your husband into it as part of a mutual support structure.

Alternatively, and this is the one I favour, but that’s just me: be open and honest. Tell him exactly what you want to do and why and make him all part of the plan. Granted, this approach won’t work with every guy, and you know your man best, so you decide.

Pick an activity that he may like
I’ve been a long-time advocate of women lifting weights, and this is an activity that guys seem to really get into as well. Tell him you want to get into weightlifting with him, and you can hire a personal trainer to teach you both at the same time (which saves money). Having you and your man learning to lift weights together can be a fun and bonding experience, but it doesn’t have to stop there.

There are plenty of other exciting things you can try as well, like mountain biking, kettlebells (although make sure you get some good instruction), skiing, snowshoeing, or rock climbing. Make it a mutual adventure and you’ll have a great time, grow closer together, and burn calories!

Provide each other with a good example

If your man isn’t in the greatest of shape then just pointing it out to him isn’t going to score you points or motivate him that much. If you decide that you’re not just getting in shape for you, but to provide him with a good example that he can follow then not only will it give you an additional push to keep at it, but the good example can rub off on him. When he sees what an important part of your life it has become, he’ll want to be a part of it.

Tag team responsibilities

I’m a single parent two nights a week as well as other periodic times to accommodate my wife’s karate. Conversely, she single parents some times that I take ski days or go cycling. It is a quid pro quo arrangement where we make it possible for each other to spend more time exercising.

I realize that you can’t always exercise together, but if you’re willing to do some extra duty that makes it more convenient for him to exercise, and vice versa, then everyone wins.

If you have kids, get them involved in exercise
Family bike rides, ski trips, hikes, impromptu soccer games and even tag are all great bonding experiences and they get everyone healthier and happier.

Remember that a relationship is a partnership. You don’t have to exercise together, but it can still feel like you created a good support structure even when you’re each off doing your own thing. If you can find an exercise you can do together, then more power to you.

And remember what I said about helping each other with making time and getting motivated for exercise? Well, there is an added benefit, and that’s getting a healthier and hotter body to snuggle up with.

James S. Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist in Calgary, AB. Visit or email him at


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