How Working Out Works for Couples
The trust, communication and teamwork are huge turn-ons. So are the sweat and the spandex.
By August Wright, College of Charleston
Three years ago, I met my boyfriend at the gym.
I was hovering around the area where he was exercising, and I spent several minutes staring at him and sweating profusely before I worked up the courage to talk to him. Our “talk” consisted of me following him around while he exercised, as I perspired like a whore on nickel night.
Amazingly and through some bizarre twist of fate, we ended up going out on a date; the rest is pretty boring so I’ll stop there. The important part of this story is the gym and how exercising together—specifically lifting weights—not only opened up our communication, but actually kept us from breaking up.
Afterglow: It Doesn’t Just Happen After Sex
Okay, yes, sex is a hundred times more fun than pressing weights at the gym, but that happy, tingly feeling that occurs after sex also occurs after a really good, strenuous workout.
Anyone who exercises regularly knows that lifting weights or doing cardio causes a release of endorphins in the brain, which can lead to oodles of positive feelings: a higher sense of self-worth, better body image and the delightful realization that one hour in the gym equates to six hours of binge watching T.V. and eating fistfuls of junk food.
Like sex, exercise is best done as a duo, especially with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Every time my boyfriend and I come to an impasse—usually fortified with a gray wall of silence—hitting the gym and lifting weights always helps for a number of reasons.
First, the positive feelings that we experience during and after exercise dispel any negative feelings that we carried along with us to the gym. Second, lifting weights together forces us to communicate even if we don’t want to or even if we aren’t speaking. Third, weight lifting with a partner requires both of us to put a certain amount of trust in each other. Fourth, because exercising in general can promote a positive body image, couples who work out together may find that the sudden spike in positive body image can also lead to a spike in the amount of sex being had.
If you’re asking yourself why it always seems to be fit people having sex, it’s the exercise (and probably all of the caffeine, thermo pills, beta-alanine, chicken, spandex and water).
Positive Communication Through Encouragement
When my boyfriend and I had stopped communicating with each other (meaning, we were speaking, but it was a lot of grunting and sighing and (me) whining), we still exercised. Getting into the car with someone and committing yourself and your time to that person for the next 60-90 minutes is tough, especially when there’s just been a fight or argument.
Driving to the gym with my boyfriend when we weren’t speaking brought back memories of childhood, mainly ones of my mother waiting for me to get out of the car before really letting me have it. But when we got the gym and began lifting weights, those feelings of dread dissipated (thanks, endorphins) and we were forced to communicate with each other.
Even though our communication was limited to questions like, “How much weight do you want?” or encouraging comments like, “Breathe and concentrate. You can do it,” it was enough to break down that wall of silence and to remind us that we have each other’s backs.
When you’re lifting weights with someone, you have to spot and encourage them. Even if this person is currently your mortal enemy, you have to make sure they don’t drop the weight on themselves. Part of spotting someone is encouraging them and, unless you’re so upset that you want your significant other to suffocate to death with a straight bar over their throat, it’s probably good to offer a few encouraging words (besides, the gym has lots of witnesses so it’s really the worst place to try and murder your spouse).
I mean, sure, I’ve let my boyfriend struggle just so I could hear his pitiable little “help me” as he’s trying to press 200 pounds—because it’s the little things in life that get you through it—but I wouldn’t be an active or willing participant in his death, which I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to hear.
Your Lips Say “Help Me…” And So Do Your Eyes
Lifting weights with your girlfriend or boyfriend also requires trust. I know I was just joking about letting my boyfriend struggle (okay, it wasn’t so much a joke as it was cold, dark reality), but the truth is that he and I both know that we would lift the weight off the other person before the weight ever even had a chance to fall.
Regardless of how pissed off we are, we know that we can always rely on one another for support and for encouragement—in or out of the gym.
This supporting of each other actually does bleed into other aspects of our life.
One time, in the midst of a very long, drawn out fight between me and my boyfriend, I left the lights on in my car and the battery died. My AAA membership had expired and I didn’t have the cables or the chutzpah to ask a stranger for help. However, I did call my boyfriend and ask him to drive 40 minutes away to jump the dead battery, which he of course did.
Some of you may think that this is normal, chivalrous guy behavior, but the reality is that I’ve let my car battery die about eight or nine times, and even in the middle of this bad “about to break-up” fight, he was still willing to help me without giving me crap for leaving the lights on again. This system of support goes both ways, but, unfortunately, he leaves his car lights on a lot less than I do.