“How do I get my significant other to work out with me?”
After working as health coaches since 2013, it’s the number one question my wife, Alex, and I have received from hundreds of couples.
It’s a loaded question with a range of answers. If you search online, you’ll come up with responses from open communication to mutual health goals to persistence. While we agree with all of these, all of these articles fail to mention the one secret to success that people never consider doing… and it’s not intuitive.
The big secret is one that it’s the thing most people don’t want to do: one of you will need to take a step back.
It’s the nature of the beast to have two different skill levels for health and fitness among two people. While this imbalance can cause stress, jealousy, or overwhelm, it is also your opportunity. Don’t view this as a hurdle, but as a way to better connect with each other to build a healthier foundation.
The truth is, the more active partner needs to take on a leadership role.
Now, you might reply, “I am the leader. I already eat well and work out almost every day of the week! I lead by example.” However, be honest with yourself. That is something you likely do for yourself, regardless of whether or not your significant other joins in. You’re not truly being the leader and, in fact, are part of the problem.
Being the leader means closing the gap between you and your partner’s fitness levels. You need to start where they are. Yes, if they’re on Chapter 2 of their fitness journey and you’re on Chapter 26, you need to go backwards (we told you it wasn’t intuitive) to get on the same page. This compromise shows your commitment to the health of the duo.
Can you imagine how intimidating it is for your significant other when they see how far ahead you are in your fitness? Meet them where they are to make their journey feel more manageable.
Also, don’t think of going backwards as a negative. Being aligned in your health and fitness for the long term creates a major life upgrade. Being physically fit as a couple opens the flood gates to more adventure, spontaneity, and new hobbies in the future. We promise, leading your partner and accomplishing new goals together will be far more rewarding than tackling Chapter 27 alone.
Now, if you’re wondering on how you can become a leader, here are three real life examples from our coaching practice.
1. Ann was motivated with her workouts and wanted her partner to be as well. Therefore, she went to the gym, consistently asked her partner, Aaron, to join, and prepared healthy meals. After 2 years, she progressed but Aaron was still not working out with her. So, she became the leader, stepped back from her workout program, and joined his favorite activity, biking, together. After a few days of riding their bikes together after work, Aaron became curious about her workouts and was willing to join. So, they started with a beginner, at-home yoga program together and have been advancing their journey together ever since. Bit by bit.
2. Doug was a traveling salesman and a natural athlete, always finding it easy to work out and play on multiple sports teams. His spouse, Regina, who was less athletic and worked from home, wanted to get in shape but was highly intimidated by Doug’s fitness level. After years of positivity and encouragement, nothing seemed to work. Doug decided to become the leader. They started a workout program of his spouse’s choosing: a cardio dance program. He didn’t love the workouts, but he loved that it made them more active than they had been in years.
3. Jim was always fit and could eat anything as long as he did his cardio. His significant other, Sarah, worked out consistently but her body wasn’t as forgiving with junk food. Josh saw her frustration and decided to become the leader. He cleaned out the cupboard, prepared healthier meals, and bought some dumbbells for their new at-home gym. After following a lifting program together for a few months, Jim and Sarah both realized that they enjoyed lifting weights. The great results were also a bonus. She lost inches and he gained muscle, which motivated them to continue eating and cooking clean.
If your significant other won’t work out with you, it’s time for you to take a step back and evaluate why. Think of this action as “slowing down to go fast.” Once you are working out together consistently, you can start to share the leadership role.
Soon, your significant other will be pestering you to get out of bed and work out!