Pulling Your Weight
Fitness experts weigh in on motivating your partner

Not sharing health and fitness habits is a big compatibility issue for couples. If getting in shape for the wedding is an A-list priority for you, but it isn’t even a blip on your honey’s radar, what can you do?

“It’s probably one of the toughest things that I have clients run into in terms of helping them meet their goals,” says Billy Polson, co-owner and founder of Diakadi Body, a Bay Area gym and wellness center.

“If you’re in a couple and what he wants to do is drink margaritas on the beach all weekend and you want to go kayaking, it really becomes a tricky line to walk.”

Photo courtesy Diakadi Body

Hopefully, your partner will be glad to accommodate you, even If it means breaking out of his or her comfort zone. But if your partner is completely new to healthy living, Polson suggests seeking personalized guidance. “Find a very experienced trainer who can make an assessment of where he or she is and make a recommendation based on his or her body’s needs.” Bringing in a third party has other advantages too. “The biggest mistake people make when motivating their partner is to do it in a bossy or nagging way,” says Allison Pelot, a personal trainer with Pure Energy Wellness in Winter Park, Fla. Feedback that might be interpreted as hostile or bossy coming from you is just professional advice from a trainer.

One tip both trainers identified as crucial is leading by example. People are often motivated by their partner’s success. “They see improvement in your looks and happiness, and start being more involved,” Polson says. “If people can take even the smallest of changes and see the difference in how that makes them feel, it kind of organically happens.”

Take your relationship in a healthy direction with these fun activities:

1. Biking. Provides great low-impact cardio: pick a local nature trail or scenic park to explore together.
2. Dog-walking. If you share a love of animals, adopt a pooch together and take him on long daily strolls.
3. Qi Gong. Rhythmic and calming, this is a fun practice to take up with your partner.
4. Salsa dancing! Latin dances are high-energy, fun and sexy.
5. Tantric Yoga. Interlocking asanas enhance intimacy and boost endorphin levels.
6.Thai Massage. It feels great, increases flexibility and helps relieve the stress of wedding planning.

Pelot agrees, suggesting simple lifestyle changes first: “Make the switch to organic, start taking time for yourself each day, drink lots of high quality water and get to bed early,” she says, “The best way to have a positive influence on your partner is to be the change you want to see in others.  You have to live it first.”

Pelot and Polson both emphasize that the key to motivating your partner is staying strong in your personal resolve. Ultimately, a relationship that leads you to compromise your personal ambitions and desires will lead to heartache and frustration.

“Maintain your own goals first of all,” says Polson. “People lose themselves and are not able to hang onto their goals when they are trying to please the other person too much.”
This is an especially easy trap to fall into when a partner is resistant to change. “Success and failure weigh heavily on whether the partner wants to get in shape,” says Polson, who recommends that the motivated party make it a date: “There are lots of things people can do with their partner.”

If you’re facing an uphill battle, he recommends adopting a cloak and dagger approach. Camouflage exercise as a way to spend time together. “As the lead person, look at your schedule of things you want to do each week. Say it’s three gym workouts and two cardio. Make the cardio a bike ride and a hike together,” says Polson. Pelot seconds this idea. “If you are going for a walk, invite your partner to join or go for a hike together,” she says. “Make it fun and exciting.”

Bonus: If approached tactfully, nudging your partner to improve their fitness will strengthen more than just your bodies.