Working out with your significant other (or even a platonic buddy) can reap benefits: It's often more fun to exercise with company, you motivate each other to actually get out the door, and your workout gets a shakeup. Here are some tips on how to make a double workout work:
1. Be open to trying so mething different. For many people, exercise is a strict and unvarying routine limited to one or two activities. But you'd be surprised what you may enjoy if you give something else a try. When your partner offers to teach you to shoot a basketball, even though you haven't played since elementary school, suspend your disbelief or your fear of humiliation rather than reflexively saying, "I'd rather be swimming."
2. Switch off being the leader. Two type A personalities attempting to direct the same workout can lead to butting heads. Let one person plan how you'll spend your half-hour of weights or pick the mountain biking route; think of it as having your own personal trainer, and allow your own brain to shut off.
3. Learn something new together. He's a spin class veteran, and you'd rather do yoga? Try something totally new for both of you; buy a package of tennis lessons, or join a hiking club. Besides being fun, trying novel activities together is good for your love life.
4 . Try activities you can do at different paces. If you've run for years but your boyfriend is a newbie, your easy 4-mile jog can be his weekly speed workout. If you both like to cycle, the faster person can sprint ahead, then circle back and ride with the slower one. Or, if you're at the gym, you can work out on adjoining machines and pick your own pace.
5 . Pick different but compatible activities . Working out together doesn't always mean doing the same thing. Maybe one person wants to use the elliptical machine, and the other wants to lift weights nearby. Or one wants to make a 1-mile loop on in-line skates while the other does faster loops on a bike.
6. Push yourself ... but don't overdo it. It's tempting to try to imitate the pretzel-like pose that your yogi boyfriend can do or to take the double black-diamond ski trail to keep up with your girlfriend the expert; one of the best parts of working out à deux is getting motivated to go farther than you think you can. However, don't hurt yourself. Test, but don't exceed, your limits, and you'll live to pose or ski another day.
7 . Take cues from your workout buddy. Some people like to chat nonstop; others prefer companionable silence or even exercising together while listening to the same iPod playlist. Be aware of what your partner enjoys, compromise, and figure out what works for you both.
8 . Be supportive. People are more likely to keep up an exercise routine if it's fun. "Fun" doesn't include being snapped at for not catching on to the downward dog quickly enough or getting an eye-roll when you can't match your partner's 7-minute-per-mile running pace. Be kind and encouraging.
9. If it goes well, incorporate the kids once in a while , too. Research suggests that their family's lifestyle influences teens' weight. And what family couldn't use more time together? Family hikes or pickup games make for excellent exercise.
10 . Make sure your own workout needs get met, too. If you're training for a marathon and he's not, you probably won't be able to run together every day. If you need more of a challenge and can't figure out a way to exercise together, don't be afraid to tell him you need several workouts a week to yourself, too. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.