Working Out with a Significant Other That Hates Exercising

Not everyone is keen on exercise.  Or are they?  Personally, I think everyone enjoys exercise, they just need to find out what form suits their needs and interests.

Working out with a wife/husband or significant other can be hard sometimes.  What interests you might not interest them.  It’s a constant battle back and forth.  How do you find a happy medium or how do you even get them started exercising?  Most people want to exercise but they come up with excuses why they don’t.  Follow these steps and with a little luck, you might have just found yourself a new workout partner for life.


1)  Why do they have a negative image of exercise?

This is the first step of the process.  You need to converse with them and figure out what is causing them to hate exercise.  Whatever it might be, you need to understand their needs and work around them. 

They need to understand that there is a workout for everyone with every type of need. 


2)  What are their goals?

What are their goals?  Do they even have any?  Maybe they feel that they are a little overweight and wouldn’t mind dropping a couple pounds or maybe they feel they are too skinny and would like to put on some lean muscle mass. 

Whatever the case is, you need to write down their goals.  From there you need to come up with a plan of attack.  How will you get them to achieve their goals without hating every minute of it? 


3)  Set short and long term goals

Take the goals that they mentioned and look over them.  Make some short and long term goals that both of you agree upon.  This is key, you need to make them a part of this process and not just lay it all out for them.  If they have involvement in the process they will feel more comfortable knowing that you aren’t making them do anything they don’t want to do. 

You want to make sure that the goals you are setting are measurable.  It is important to have measurable goals because if you can’t measure the progress then how will anyone know if there is every any progress at all?  Without seeing progress on paper, the individual will more than likely get frustrated and lose interest all together.  The goal here is to show them that what they are doing is getting them closer to their ultimate goal. 

The purpose of short-term goals is so that they are constantly getting positive reinforcement by achieving small goals that help them reach their ultimate goal.  This will keep them motivated and on track.  If you only have one ultimate goal, you lose site of that goal is after a while because it’s such a huge transition that it could take a fairly long amount of time to reach.  Therefore, they have small stepping-stones to reach throughout the process that helps them towards their ultimate goal. 

Those short-term goals need to lead to a long-term goal.  This can be something as simple as losing 50 pounds in 8 months.  We call it a long-term goal because as it says, it is a goal that will take a long time to reach compared to the short-term goals.

I do want to note, I mentioned that the goals need to be measurable, but you also want to make sure they are achievable.  Don’t come up with goals that are so hard to achieve that the person cannot achieve.  This will only deter them from exercise.

The goals should also be specific.  Something general doesn’t tell you much and it is hard to make good goals that can be measured.  For instance, if you said you want to lose weight, that is very general.  A better goal would be to say that you want to lose 50 pounds of fat in one full year.  This example allows you to measure your progress and gives you a goal to strive for. 


4)  Start off slow

Start off slow—this isn’t a race.  If you start off shooting like gangbusters, you will lose sight of your goal because you rushed into things and didn’t take the time to understand what you are doing and what changes your body is going through due to training.

Start off with just a couple exercises per body part and work your way from there.  Start with only 15 minutes of cardio if that is all they can do and work your way up to 30-60 minutes as they are showing improvement.

Remember, the tortoise beat the hare.  Slow and steady always comes out on top.  You find runners who start off sprinting in a race normally finish towards the back of the pack because they didn’t ease their way into it.  Same goes with those who jump into exercise by doing tons of reps and sets along with long cardio sessions.  Take it slow and as progress is made, re-evaluate the training protocol and make changes where need be.


5)  Introduce new things

As they are progressing, add in new fun things.  Change up the exercises and change what they are doing for cardio.  Flavor is the spice of life.  Keep things fresh and fun and they won’t get bored.  If you find them don’t enjoy a certain exercise or cardio session, then change it up.  You don’t need to stick to one specific protocol—in most cases you will find people constantly changing their workouts because they either get bored with it or they don’t like the way an exercise feels.  This is normal so don’t make them do anything they don’t enjoy just like you wouldn’t want someone making you do something you didn’t like.


6)  Give support

You are both in this together, and if you significant other is the one who isn’t fond of exercise, they are going to need a lot of support and positive reinforcement.  With that being said, you are their lifeline.  When things aren’t going well for them and they want to give up, you need to be there to pick them back up and encourage them to keep pushing.  Without you being there with them, they wouldn’t have started exercising in the first place, so you are the only one there to help them through this new journey.

When they are doing great, let them know so.  Tell them they are making great progress and you can really see a difference in the way they look and how they present themselves.  If they aren’t doing so well, don’t put them down, simple give them some motivation (a little kick in the butt) to help them get back on track. 


7)  Reward them

Now I’m not saying to go out and buy them a new car or anything like that, but little gifts to reward them for accomplishing goals never hurt anyone.  Maybe buy them a new pair of running shoes or a new pair of workout pants.  Something that they could use during their workout is the best gift to get them.  It reinforces the purpose of working out and that they are achieving their set goals.  Rewards are positive reinforcements that go a long way when giving them to someone who originally never wanted to start working out in the first place.


8)  Enjoy each other’s company

The main thing is to have fun.  Enjoy each other’s company and be each other’s support system.  You are both in this together to not only improve your overall health, but to look better too.  Don’t workout and never make eye contact or break a smile.  Have some fun, laugh a little while working out.  You don’t have to be serious when you workout, joke around and make things interesting for both of you.  The more you enjoy spending time working out together, the more likely you are to make sure that you have a time set each day to plan for your workout.  But again, I can’t stress it enough…  have fun working out and make it enjoyable for everyone involved.  This is about a lifestyle change, so make it something that you enjoy and something that you both can enjoy for a lifetime.  Who knows, maybe your significant other will soon enough be the one bugging you to get up extra early to get a workout in.  Oh how the tables can turn…

Author:  Matt Weik

Follow Matt on Twitter @weikfitness

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