Figuring out how to get fit as a couple isn’t always easy. Yet, we know that fitness is the cornerstone of health and having an accountability partner dramatically boosts results and your relationship.
Since 2013, we have been coaching couples who want to work out together. Not to mention, we have been honing our own method for getting fit together as a couple.
When determining how to best exercise as a couple, you have to factor in different schedules, fitness levels, and work out preferences.
Our advice in this article will help you create a sustainable plan together and get results in the long term. So, let’s learn how to work out as a couple.
how to get fit as a couple?
After years of long-distance dating between the US and China, Ryan and I decided to move in together once I accepted a job in Fort Worth in 2015.
We finally had an opportunity to learn how to get fit together. So, we invested in equipment for our first home gym, and set it up in the living room of our studio apartment.
Becoming fit together
Given our schedules, we knew this step was critical to be consistent with our workouts. Although managing our schedules and different workout preferences would be a challenge, we couldn’t possibly ignore the incredible and scientifically proven benefits of working out together.
For years, my fitness routine had been all over the place, mainly centering around training for my next marathon.
For Ryan, he was dedicatedly going through each new Beachbody program from cardio to weightlifting to yoga. When we sat down to discuss how we would exercise together, we came to grips with each other’s expectations and preferences.
I wanted to avoid high-intensity interval training (HIIT) at all costs. My body moved at the slower pace of a marathoner’s instead of sprinter’s.
This was tough for Ryan, who was a major fan of Shaun T’s HIIT workout, Insanity. On his end, Ryan wasn’t fond of martial arts workouts, which was a big childhood hobby of mine.
Instead, we discussed our goals (for Ryan to gain muscle and for me to become lean) and compromised with the cardio and weightlifting program, Hammer and Chisel.
Weightlifting was completely new to me, but I was open to trying a new program, especially one that also matched Ryan’s goals.
Our first work out program together was a huge success. Weight lifting turned out to be an absolute favorite, and we soon progressed to a full weightlifting program, Body Beast.
Without Ryan challenging me to try new workouts, I may never have tried weightlifting and seen my pre-wedding weight loss transformation.
Through this experience, we learned how to consistently and efficiently work out as a couple, wherever we are in the world. We have learned how to do yoga as a couple, and to give us more options for strength training, took advantage of resistance bands and their benefits.
We continue to work out together while helping other couples set their goals, start a work out program together, and learn how to exercise as a couple.
After learning how to work out together, and helping others do the same, here are our tried and true rules. These rules will help you get fit as a couple by making it as easy and as efficient as possible.
how to get fit as a couple
Rule #1: Communicate
How can you work out together before thoroughly discussing your goals and plan of action? It’s important to communicate what you want out of your fitness routine and what your expectations are.
Therefore, both people need to be open to new workouts that benefit both without pushing one person over the edge. You never know what transformations you’ll see when you try something new!
To progress, every couple should be tracking their annual goals and daily habits, an activity that provides the awareness needed to make progress.
By both tracking your goals and habits using our tools, you’ll have a good reason to consistently talk about your health and fitness goals in a neutral, non-judgmental environment.
Rule #2: Identify strong motivation
There are two types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation is based on ego or external benefits, such as, “I want to get a six-pack for the cruise.” Instead of bringing happiness, ego breeds frustration and disappointment, which typically ends in failure.
Extrinsic motivation is weak, and in the off chance that you achieve your goal, what happens next? You have to find a new motivation. It’s not sustainable.
Intrinsic motivation is levels deeper, and it’s harder to find than external motivators. Once you find this strong motivation as a couple, you’ll be unstoppable. They are usually linked to family, confidence levels, and your passions.
To identify your strong motivation, follow our 5-Step Process to Identify Your Why.
In addition to strong motivation, pick a shared goal to work towards. If your partner has a strong preference to hike the local mountain in one month’s time, schedule it in even if you dislike hiking. You can pick the next shared goal.
Rule #3: Save time with a home gym
How can you consistently and efficiently work out as a couple when you’re balancing two schedules with class times and commutes?
A home gym makes that possible for us. We’ve found that building a home gym best fits our lifestyle. It saves us valuable time and money with just a small amount of initial investment.
Before our home gym, we tried them all: the barebones, 24-hour gym, the YMCA, and the ClassPass access to the best studios in town. We even had a gym in our apartment building, but we still couldn’t consistently work out there as a couple.
It’s because they all require the effort of getting changed, leaving the house, and, once there, storing your bags, waiting for equipment, and making small chat. Hey, some people love the atmosphere of a big gym.
However, for us, there was too much fluff to consistently and efficiently work out together. We also had to manage significant business travel, and when you’re on the road, a gym membership is of no use.
A home gym not only saves time, eliminates many excuses, and makes you more consistent, but it also saves you money. In the first eight years of working out together, our home gym saved us $7,050, including equipment and streamed workouts investment.
And, that doesn’t include the 460 gallons of gas we saved from commuting.
Rule #4: Follow a trainer
Everyone needs a trainer, even Olympians, and professional athletes. It’s tough to do it on your own because a trainer balances muscle groups in a given workout while timing the exercises for maximum effectiveness.
A trainer also forces you to do the workouts that you don’t want to do. These are usually the ones that will bring you the most results. For us, that was leg day.
We’ve tried to follow workouts just based on lists of exercises, but it never gave us the same results. We may have the incorrect form, not held the exercise long enough, or overdid the reps or weights.
When you’re deciding how to get fit as a couple, make sure following a trainer is part of your plan. And in most relationships, it’s not a good idea to have your partner as your trainer.
For us, we follow the streamed workouts through Beachbody On Demand. They employ top industry trainers and a team of sports scientists who constantly create new programs. You can do these programs anywhere.
Our favorites, Tony Horton and Autumn Calabrese are great at motivating us throughout the workout to keep us pushing more and more. The programs also offer lower and higher intensity modifications to match the fitness level of every couple.
Try the workouts for free (you still have to give your CC number) by starting your Beachbody On Demand trial.
Rule #5. Follow a structured daily plan
To get fit as a couple, having a plan with structure was critical. First, work with your partner to see which day(s) work best as your rest days and commit to working out the rest of the time.
It’s important to follow a workout program that changes the routine daily and then monthly as you progress. If you don’t have a calendar full of variety (from leg day to shoulders,) you’ll find yourself repeating the same moves too often and plateauing.
When Ryan and I are in between program calendars, we always seem to flounder. Even for us, it’s hard to create a full, beneficial schedule on the fly!
With Beachbody, each of their programs comes with a calendar that includes strategic active flex/stretch days and ramps up the workouts at different stages of the program.
To keep us on track and to boost accountability, we always print out the calendar and make sure to tick off each day.
Pro Tip: There are times when you or your partner will miss workouts due to travel, sickness, work, etc. To keep on track, the person should skip those workouts altogether and join in wherever their partner is and continue forward. Often these hiccups can derail us so don’t feel like you need to start all over from Day 1 or need to re-do the workouts that were missed.
Rule #6: Document your progress
How can you work out together and get results if you aren’t tracking progress?
Results are the best motivation, but you won’t see any improvements if you don’t track them. Before each program, it’s key to take each other’s “before photos” from all angles.
Also, write down your measurements and weight and keep them in a safe place until the end of your program. Getting a before weight is a good idea, but it’s not the best metric. You shouldn’t weigh yourself more than once a month unless it’s a form of accountability and not discouragement. Trust the process.
In addition to these numbers, you’ll need to track how you are progressing during each workout. Write down how many reps you did or what weights you used for each individual exercise. If on a Beachbody program, they provide tracker sheets.
Print them out and make sure you both document each workout! Nothing feels as good as seeing improvement in your strength or on your waist week after week!
Before you start, benchmark your current fitness level with our Fitness Test. Record your scores and re-take the test every month.
Rule #7: Be efficient with your moves
The key, as with rule #3, is to save time when working out together.
Try to always do 2-3 moves together to work multiple body groups at the same time. Think burpee push-ups, lunges with curls, pull-ups with crunches, or a recent favorite of ours, calf raiser hip-ups with tricep curls.
There’s no need ever to spend more than one hour working out together. In fact, we rarely workout more than 30 minutes a day at home. Success in fitness is all about consistency, not intensity. Avoid the treadmill, elliptical, and other machines that only work one area of the body.
This is really where a trainer comes into play. Not all workouts are created equal. We always track our workout intensity, and we’ve seen that a quality workout burns up to 90% more calories than some conventional workouts such as the treadmill or stationary bike.
You can see those results in this cardio workout experiment. The workouts that are efficient with their moves deliver significantly higher heart rate and calorie burn. This is another reason why Beachbody On Demand is worth it.
It pairs well with a home gym, offers variety, trainers, daily plans to follow, tools to track progress, and highly optimized fitness programs. Also, it allows you to bring your workouts with you and work out anywhere.
Rule #8: Bring your workouts with you
If you’re like we were, and determined to get fit as a couple, you should know that freedom is key. In this day and age, most of us aren’t home for full months on end to commit to a strict routine.
Join the 21st century and stream workouts from your phone, tablet, or laptop, wherever you are in the world.
No matter where Ryan and I are, from a hotel room to our living room to a nearby park, we always have access to our fitness programs. With a library of hundreds of workouts to choose from through Beachbody On Demand, we can always find one that fits our timing and accessible equipment.
And for the times when we have limited equipment, the programs show you how to modify the routine, teaching you how to do exercises with resistance bands.
For example, we learned that Beachbody’s cardio workouts burned up to 90% more calories than conventional routines. We also learned that our cost per workout is 410% lower than the average gym-goer.
Rule #9: Focus on long term
Years. It takes years. Not even one year. At least two years. Be patient, trust, and enjoy the process. We have clients who only started working out with their partners successfully after 2-3 years of work.
Remember, your results will vary. This is completely normal, so don’t get in the habit of comparing your results to your partner’s. This recommendation is mostly for women. Men’s bodies react differently, and they tend to drop the pounds more quickly.
Since your plan is to get fit as a couple, try our plan designed for couples that includes everything described above. Kickstart your healthy lifestyle journey with our Couple’s Clean Week.
I have questions. What do I do?
Ask away in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible and add your recommendations to this article accordingly.
Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for your comment!
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Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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