Couples find working out together can be hard work if pace differs

The Amherst (Nova Scotia) Daily News/Associated Press—October 23, 2008

He wants to take a romantic run together through the woods. She wants to go off alone and use her headphones to tune him out.

When it comes to exercising with a significant other, motivation and support can turn workouts into ''we time,'' or unwanted criticism and control can make you crave lots of ''me time.''

Couples who like exercising together say it's a great way to squeeze in more time together while keeping each other moving. Feeling closer by sharing something they enjoy, they may end their workout with sweaty kiss, or maybe even a sexy shower.

But, at the other end of the lap pool are those who cringe at the thought of being in the gym at the same time as their partner, who want to do different physical activities, work at a different pace or just be alone.

And these exercise individualists really, really don't want to hear their mate's ''helpful'' suggestions on technique and form. A partner just cramps their style, perhaps more than a nagging leg cramp.

A workout partner can be great for motivation, but when your bedmate becomes your gym mate, special care may be needed. For better or worse, exercising together brings the relationship into the workout, says Jenny Susser, Ph.D.,  a clinical sport psychologist at the Women's Sports Medicine Center at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

''If you have a strong relationship and become workout partners, it could be really great,'' says Susser, who has done couples counseling. ''If you have communication issues, becoming workout partners could give you another forum in which to struggle.''

Susser says criticism or ''instructional communication'' at home can spill into the gym. A pre-workout chat on when to push the advice and when to back off can help, she says.

Still, whether it's the form she uses to squat, the pace he chooses to run, even the choice of what exercise to do in the first place, criticism and critique are common. Sometimes, hearing it from someone you love makes it that much harder to hear.

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