6 Steps to Get Your Spouse to Workout
Rocky and Adrian. Edward and Bella. Bill and Hillary Clinton. Al and Peg Bundy.
What do these have in common? They’re all couples who have a relationship built on love, support, and harmony. Okay, maybe some of these are a bit of a stretch, but you get the point: when you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s nice when they support your efforts to reach a goal.
In a life with its own share of distractions, staying on an exercise program has become a modern day challenge for most of us. Having a solid support system is one way to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon, and what better support system could you have than the one you go home to every night?
I’ve seen my fair share of clients start an exercise program, start seeing great results, and then have to drop the hammer all of a sudden with the news that they were quitting. I once had a female client diagnosed with osteoporosis start squatting her own bodyweight! Sadly, she informed me one day with the ultimate kiss of death: her husband told her that she didn’t need to train anymore. It happens all the time: one member of a couple starts getting in shape and building confidence, and shortly after they have to inform me that they no longer need my services. Maybe one person in the relationship was getting a big insecure; but conspiracy theories aside, quitting an exercise program just plain stinks.
Don’t let this happen to you. If you can get your spouse on board with exercise and clean eating, you have a much greater chance of sticking to your program and seeing great results. However, you can’t force someone to do what they don’t want to do, so here are some helpful hints to push them in the right direction.
1. Choose your words wisely
Telling someone that they need to work out is a sure way to get something thrown at your head. You mean well, but most of us are so insecure that we translate the meanings into other things. You know, the whole “you’re calling me fat” or “you don’t like the way I look?” When it comes to working out, the way you look is simply a side benefit to all the hard work you put in. Trying to get someone to do something that can very literally change their life shouldn’t begin with a superficial premise.
Instead, find out what makes the person tick. Maybe your spouse has no confidence. Maybe they feel like they have no control in life. Find what your spouse feels is missing from his or her life and explain to them how they can get that through training. Before you jump ship and say “my spouse won’t admit to that,” trust me – everyone has something in them that would motivate them to workout. You just have to know when to dig deep enough.
2. The Energizer Bunny
I haven’t seen an Energizer Bunny commercial in a long time, but most of you know the shtick: the battery that keeps going, and going, and going. Are your evenings spent passing out in front of the television? Does the energy crisis you’re suffering from cause you and your spouse to order the same plain pizza over and over again because no one has the energy to cook a nice meal? Talk to your spouse about getting more done in less time. Starting an exercise program and cleaning up your diet can make you a lean,mean fighting machine. You’ll have more energy to get through the day. More energy means it takes less effort to do your day to day tasks, so you and your spouse can start doing things that you’ve always wanted to do. Or revisit some extracurricular activities that you guys used to do when you started dating…..
3. Anything you can do, I can do better
If you workout, don’t make it a competition. This is especially true for the ladies: you gent’s fragile ego may shatter at the notion of you mopping up the training floor with them. For some couples, there may already be enough competition between you: who has a better job, who makes more money, etc. Adding another ingredient to the competition recipe may make your dish turn sour.
Instead, focus on goal setting. Westside Barbell is known to have the strongest powerlifters in the word (both men and women). Their gym motto is that everyone is responsible for everyone else’s success. That means that if some guy is gunning for your deadlift record, you need to help him. When he breaks that record, he needs to help you reclaim your record. Remember, the idea is to build the other one up with confidence and accountability, not breaking them down because you’re in better shape than them. In fact, set your own goals and have your spouse support you as well. A confident, secure spouse is a happy one.
4. Don’t Coach
Don’t coach your spouse unless they ask for help. In their head, you’re their spouse, not their personal trainer. If they didn’t ask for your help, your kind gestures may get thrown back in your face. Even on the training floor, your spouse can’t differentiate between the two and will take it as you’re telling me what to do.
Instead, let your significant other find their own way. Maybe they’re intimidated by strength training and don’t want to try it just yet. Dipping their toe in the water is a better way of getting them to stick with it then shoving them into the deep end. Let them find their own way and build interest gradually.
5. Make it Fun
Training should be fun, not a chore. If you view it as a chore, then you’re not going to stick with it. Remember that piece about goal setting? Maybe you provide a reward for your significant other for reaching their goal. Learn how to cook great tasting meals that you can cook together. Try new foods and incorporate them into your recipe book. There are tons of different foods you can try, and eating healthy goes far beyond a chicken breast and cup of carrots.
If everyone can keep their ego in check, try a workout together. Remember, the goal is to make the other person feel good, not to outshine them.
6. Turning the volume down
Do you and your spouse argue a lot? Stressed over bills or which in-laws to spend a holiday with? Then both of you definitely need to start training… STAT. It’s a simple fact: trying to get through an interval workout, knocking out a heavy set, or ripping through a circuit tends to turn the volume down on other things going on. It’s pretty hard to think about how your wife watched the newest episode of Arrow without you when you have a couple of hundred pounds on your back. It’s stress relief 101. When both of you get through a tough training session neither one seems that concerned about who needs to empty the dishwasher. Explain to your spouse that you two can spend less time fighting and more time loving, and you’ll probably get them on board.
Does the couple that trains together stay together? No one is an island and the people in your personal life can help make or break your success. It’s not easy, but you can make it work with some effort. After all, you’re married – you know all about effort and making things work!