We all see images and videos on social media of fit couples like Ryan and Julia di Pompeo with the hashtag relationship goals. We see Stan Efferding post images of his wife spotting him on bench press in their garage gym. Tim Geurts and Chantal Lekkerkerker continue to train and compete together. As strongwoman and powerlifter, Samantha Coleman once told me, “There is nothing like having a home built around strength. The best feeling in the world is having your husband or wife be your training partner, meal prep helper, massage therapist or mental consoler”. Here’s how you can begin training with your significant other.
1. Don’t Make It A Man (Woman) Cave
Simply put, a home gym is a reflection of the home gym owner’s personality. Which means it’s likely to be uncomfortable to train there for anyone else. Picture what happens when you get into a car you don’t normally drive. First thing you do is adjust everything to fit you. The same thing happens in a home gym. But just like when your husband borrows your car and has to adjust the mirror and seat; the home gym won’t work as a shared space unless you make sure it fits both of you. Garage Gym Life contributor, Joe Gray, picks out equipment based upon what both he and his wife are able to use. In his review of the Edge Fitness Systems Rickshaw he mentioned, “I wanted a replacement for my trap bar, and farmers walk bars for deadlifts and weighted carries, plus a solution that was user friendly for set up, for both my wife and me.” My wife and I have a dry erase board set up with our home gym wish list. It’s divided evenly between things she wants and things I want. We stick to a budget and buy things based on what’s on the wishlist. That’s resulted in a shared space that reflects both of our personalities.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Let Your Partner Take The Lead
My wife is a former triathlete who leads women’s group rides with a local cycling group when she has time. I’ve competed in powerlifting and love the old time physical culture lifts. She enjoys running and swimming, I prefer fisticuffs and grappling. So when it’s time to go cycling, I shut up and listen. When she needs work on her deadlift form, she asks me. That give and take demonstrates that we respect each other’s expertise and value what we both bring to the table. But everything has its limits which brings me to the next point.
3. Give Each Other Space
Aside from the coaching I mentioned, my wife and I give each other our space when we train. She’s available if I need her to film one of my sets, she even checks my form and I do the same for her. But otherwise we give each other space so neither of us feels smothered.We’ve had workouts where neither one of us said a word for the hour we were down in our garage. After fourteen plus years of marriage and counting, we don’t need to talk to enjoy each other’s company. But it still feels good to know that you’re both working hard towards your goals.
4. Do Fitness Related Stuff Together Outside The Home
I couldn’t finish this without mentioning my gratitude for the relationship I have with my lovely Puerto Rican assistant. Our relationship goals include joining each other in our activities. We don’t do everything together, but we do as much as possible because we’re friends as well as lovers. Naomi and I have been together through too many adventures to list here. But here’s one to get you started.
We make a point of going to events like The Arnold Fitness Expo, the Mr. Olympia, The National Animal Barbell Club, G Code Nutrition Training Days, etc. together. That’s important because:
Expos tend to have gym equipment and we both get to check out stuff that we might want to buy or add to the home gym wish list
It reinforces that fitness isn’t my thing or her thing; it’s our thing that we enjoy together.
- It inspires us both and carries over to our training; giving us both a motivational boost when we get back home. That’s a lot better than she or I going off for the weekend, having a great time and coming home inspired while our partner is indifferent because they weren’t there to share the experience.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
In the beginning, especially if one of you is more experienced at this than the other, it’s going to be awkward. Start by giving each other permission to make minor changes to your shared workout space. Give the other person room to explore this aspect of their fitness and focus on enjoying getting to know this part of your partner’s personality. You’ll be glad you did.