The Fit Life, LLC

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Do Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together?

In honor of Valentine's day, I'm re-posting an article I wrote a few years back. I'd love to hear your stories. Do you and your partner "play" together when it comes to fitness/sports? Does it help or hurt your relationship? Would you like to do more activities with your partner?

Do Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together?

Since February is the month of romance and love, is seems appropriate to examine how fitness fits into all of this mushy stuff. How do couples balance exercise and romance? What if one part of the couple is active and
the other is not? What if you’re both really active, but enjoy different activities? If you are single, do you seek out mates that are active and enjoy the same activities you do? Do couples need to play together to stay together?

For me activity level is absolutely an important part of a relationship. I’m a very active person, and what I like to spend my free time doing is hiking, biking, kayaking, running, camping, etc. So ending up with a couch potato would make for a difficult relationship. My career is based on fitness, so finding someone who lives a fitness-focused life was kind of critical. I'm lucky, because at 38 I married a man who was very like-minded. We love to go camping and enjoy many outdoor activities together. Most of our vacations are built around the adventures we can have while on them. Although our run paces are different, we still sign up for many of the same races. And we'll head out on the same run, we just don't run together very often. Sometimes we'll run the opposite way on a loop so we can pass each other--kind of check-in--during our runs. (Okay, okay, I'll admit deep down I have this goal of training, training, training--secretly--until I can beat his pace--and then just pulverizing him in a race...but I digress). Personally, I just can't imagine ending up with someone who doesn't enjoy many of the same activities.

How do other couples fit exercise in with love and romance?

Dawn of Virginia:
My husband and I take yoga
classes together on a regular basis, at least 2 to 3 times a week, and we begin our morning routine with a meditation together. I would say that we're on equal ground when it comes to fitness levels. Since I teach yoga on a daily basis, I have the luxury of getting exercise in daily. My significant other makes time during his lunch hour or after work (while I'm away teaching class!). We place exercise and fitness high on our priority list. Some of our "dates" have included taking yoga classes together. Incorporating fitness activities into our relationship has definitely made the relationship stronger. I would have a hard time staying in a relationship with someone who was not physically active.

Debbie and Steve of Maryland:
Steve and I had gotten out of the habit of exercising due to our busy schedules and severe migraines on my part. We both wanted to get back in shape and find something that we could do together and to support each other. That is when I learned of the Train To End Stroke marathon program.

Steve went to the info session and when he got home he was very excited. I asked him if he signed up and he informed me he had signed us both up. I was shocked and almost speechless and decided to give it a try.

There have been times during the training where one of us had to miss a run due to illness or work and we have encouraged the other to go on the planned day or have made arrangements to go the following day together. We work at being flexible with each other so we can train together as much as possible.

Steve's athleticism has been a positive influence on me, he has taught me how to roller blade, how to ski and gave me his old mountain bike when he got a new one. We have been out on the milder trails with them and look forward to doing more biking on the trails when the weather gets nice again.

I think the fitness activities are a positive impact on our relationship. We agree most of the time and when we don't we can discuss and see the others point... sometimes it may take a bit of convincing! We learn from each other and our performance improves with the encouragement that we give each other.

Laurie of Maryland:
My husband is less active than I am—and sometimes we don’t do a very good job of balancing fitness and our relationship. I don't feel that fitness hurts the relationship, but I do feel that the potential is there to strengthen the relationship. My husband and I have a very independent relationship, and he respects and admires my running adventures. I am currently trying to recruit him to run/walk a half marathon and he is working on it. For us at least, competition also plays a part - he wants to be able to beat me - so if he can't he would rather stay on the couch!

Dan of Maryland:

We don't exercise together but pursue recreation time together. i.e. a long slow bike ride on the bike path is a common evening together. We swim together at least once a week. But gym time is separate. We train differently for different goals. We play softball for the same league on different divisions for different teams.

I am more structured about training. I try to hit the gym before work or during lunch to avoid taking up our time with my activities. A couch potato will never be an option for me again—it’s too contagious.

It strengthens it in someway and weakens it in others. We spend some great quality time together as a result of our active lifestyle. My s.o., however, does not understand the importance that races play in my life. For example, when traveling to a city for a race he doesn't understand the need for avoiding alcohol, sleep, etc.

Deborah of California
Since I value physical fitness as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, physical activity is an important factor in determining my compatibility with prospective dates. Foremost, fitness is an important factor because it indicates the stamina, strength and appearance, which are a part of any woman’s basic attraction to the male gender. Secondly, since exercise encompasses a wide-range of enjoyable pastimes, it is necessary that dates are able to participate in a wide-range of physical activities. Sports such as gun shooting, kayaking, backpacking and paint-balling require a lot of flexibility, cardio and muscular endurance which must be invested in before the event. Although my mate/date does not need to be a “Schwarzenegger” of masculine fitness, a man who is strong enough to be confident of his physical prowess, capable of being competitive and who’s health is mentally and physically boosted by activity is ideal to date. Whether I’m having fun or in a serious relationship, my dates must be physically fit in order for me to appreciate the quality of time we spend together pursuing pastimes or pleasures.

So whether or not you and your spouse “play together,” a healthy body is key to having a healthy mind. Maybe your fitness time is YOUR time and not together time. Experts do say that exercise leads to a much
better sex life. If that's not encouragement to be active, I don't know what is! Regardless, you and your partner will enjoy each others company much longer if you both make time to play at the physical activities you love.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How a love affair saved me from winter

Confessions of a former winter curmudgeon

I use to hate winter. I hated it with a passion. I was always cold. It seemed like the days--although short--were always dreary. By the end of February, I was one cranky girl. In fact I despised winter so much that I moved to California for the year-round warmth! (What I didn't count on was the crazy cost of living and how hard it would be to live 2000 miles away from everyone I loved).

I use to like snow. I figured if it was going to be cold outside, we might as well have snow. At least it's pretty. (And there was always the chance they'd close the office and I'd get a free day off). But after awhile, I would even get sick of the snow. I was seriously one of those people who would benefit from a SAD (seasonal affective disorder) light. In fact, last year, rather than purchase a SAD light, we purchased tickets to Puerto Rico. Now THAT helped make February a little brighter (although it made March really tough).

But then at the end of last year something happened. I met a new love--and that love's name was skiing.

I was a resistant skier. Ask my husband. He tried to get me to go the first winter we were together. I said, "No thanks. Skiing is not for me!" I had my reasons. I tried it once in my early 20s. A friend talked me into going. I borrowed some skis from my aunt (the old, long straight kind). The boots didn't fit quite right, but I figured they would do, and save me $20 in rental fees. I went to Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield, Ohio with a friend and her boyfriend. She gave me a five minute lesson on the bunny hill, and then left me to my own devices while she went to conquer the bigger hills. I managed the bunny hill for awhile. I wasn't comfortable, but I did it without killing myself. So I decided to try one of the other green runs they had.

During my five minute lesson I learned to snow plow. That's the only way I knew how to slow down or stop. This hill was quite a bit steeper than the bunny hill. I started going too fast and panicked. I then tumbled head over heels down the hill, leaving one ski up near the top somewhere. I twisted my knee and had to stay off of it for six weeks (which knocked me out of karate lessons for six weeks). That was it. I had tried skiing. I hated it. And, I was never going to do it again.

The transformation

Last winter I relented. I promised Mark (husband) that I would give it a try. He tried to convince me to go before our February trip to Puerto Rico, but I bailed. I wasn't about to break my leg and ruin all of our Puerto Rico adventures. But when we returned, with a good month of winter left, I agreed to go skiing.

It was much better this time. Having long boards attached to my feet still felt very foreign and uncomfortable. But skis had changed a bit in the fifteen years since my last attempt. They weren't as long. I could actually turn myself without falling down. I brought a friend along (another ski virgin) so she could feel awkward with me. Together we learned the basics. Mark was a very patient teacher. He started me on one ski and I learned to push myself around with a ski and a boot. He taught me how to control my speed by turning. He coached me down the bunny hill by skiing from side to side, slowly. By the end of the night, I could conquer that hill that defeated me fifteen years earlier. And by the end of the night I was hooked!

We only managed to get one more ski day in last winter before Spring arrived and melted the snow. But when winter rolled around this year, I was actually excited. I was going to become a skier! Mark (sweet husband that he is) took me to the ski swap at the beginning of the season, and got me all geared up. Now I looked like a skier! I had my own skis, boots that actually fit and poles (and of course, I had to find a jacket, hat and gloves--all color coordinated--to complete the ensemble).

The rest is history! I LOVE skiing. And because of skiing, I LOVE winter. Yes, I said it, "I love winter!" Instead of moping over the fact that we still have over a month of cold and snow to go, I'm moping over the fact that ski season is almost over!

I love skiing through the snow. I love the snow in the trees. I like warming up by the fire with some hot chocolate in a ski lodge. I like winter vacations to cold places! I love having a winter sport that keeps my legs strong and muscular. There's just only so much training you can do on a treadmill. Skiing has been a great supplemental workout for me. And the better I get, the more I like it. I've now conquered all the green slopes I've come across, most of the blues and even a few black diamonds (the more mild black diamonds).

Skiing has changed my entire outlook on winter. So when I hear fellow Ohio friends saying mean things about Winter, I feel the urge to defend her! "Learn to ski!" I want to shout. Or if skiing isn't your thing, try ice skating, ice climbing, sledding, tubing, build a snowman, go on a snow hike, have a snowball fight, build a snow fort. Just do something that allows you to embrace winter. Make your winter fun! Because folks (at least many of you reading this), you live in Ohio (or some other snowy place) and winter isn't going anywhere!

About Me

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I am the owner of The Fit Life, LLC. The Fit Life, LLC offers fitness instruction and nutrition counseling in a holistic way. I focus on personal training using mainly your own body strength--very little equipment. I also hold a certification in holistic nutrition. Because nutrition counseling regulations are very strict in Ohio, I'm still working on what nutrition services I can provide to my clients; however, I'm happy to provide general nutrition information. I enjoy teaching TRX, Indoor Cycling, and Boot Camps.