Exercising with someone can give you a needed lift. It can push you to work harder than you would alone. It can also be fun and prevent you from watching the clock while you're exercising.
Winter is one of my favorite seasons of the year for several reasons: it hosts great holidays like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Day, Chinese New Year, and President’s Day. It also hosts Black History Month. It’s also the season when I like to re-visit exercising with a partner.
The benefits of exercising with someone can give you a needed lift. It can push you to work harder than you would alone. Some good examples are walking outdoors or on a treadmill, exercising on a bike, and taking an exercise class. A partner can help you go a little longer and help you to push yourself more than you would alone.
It can also be fun and prevent you from watching the clock while you’re exercising. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy training and coaching partners. Printed with this article is a photo of my client Frank getting in a boxing workout with a partner.
Exercises for two
A fun partner exercise I like is seesaw squatting with resistance bands. Get a resistance band with handles on both ends and make sure it’s taut (tense). One partner will stand while pulling up the band overhead with both arms stretched out. Your partner will stand facing you, and while squatting pull the band down between his or her legs with arms stretched out. The two partners will take turns alternating standing and squatting for about 40 seconds, rest, and then repeat. The exercise will work your core muscles, and upper and lower body muscles.
Medicine ball twists is another great partner exercise. You can do the exercise while standing or sitting. You and your partner will stand back to back facing away from each other. If you’re standing, stand with your feet a little wider than a shoulder-width apart. One partner will pass the medicine ball to the other partner from behind. The other partner will retrieve the ball and pass it to the partner in one direction. You’ll continue this in one direction for about 20 seconds, and then continue doing the same thing in the opposite direction. It’s a good exercise for your core and obliques (love handles).
Partners can do several exercises with medicine balls, including medicine ball sit-ups. You and your partner lie on mats, knees bent, toe to toe to each other. One partner will lie back holding the medicine ball with both hands close to his or her chest. He/she will then rise with the ball while exhaling and toss the ball (or hand the ball) to the other partner, who will then lie back to the floor with the ball and then rise again tossing (or handing) the ball back. The two of you will continue doing this back and forth for a goal of 15 to 20 repetitions.
Bodyweight squats is another good exercise you can do with a partner. Many people I know dislike exercising their legs. If you can find a way to do it that’s fun you’re more likely to stick to it. To do this exercise, you and your partner stand facing each other, an arms-length apart. Stand with your feet wider than a hip width apart. Partners will grasp each other’s forearms with a secure grip, squat while sending the hips back and keeping your core tight. Hold it for a moment and then rise up together and then repeat about 10 to 15 times.
Less stress, more confidence
In addition to some fun workouts, a partner can also be useful in helping you to de-stress. You can discuss things that maybe on your mind, while your partner listens. He or she may in turn do the same thing with you. As you both listen intuitively to each other and talk to one another, your workout will go by faster than you realize. This can be especially helpful during walks. Some workout partners I know have no relationship to each other outside of working out together. Having a confidante is typically not the primary reason two people decide to exercise together, but over time you may find yourself forming a bond and having multiple benefits for having your exercise partner.
Having a partner gives you someone who will keep you accountable and positive; give you something to look forward to, help you to reach your goals, and empower you to strengthen self-love.
With self-love we can get out of our own head, and not be our own enemy. As Khalil Gibran once said, “And God said ‘Love your enemy,’ and I obeyed him and loved myself.” Having a good partner can be a jewel in that effort.
If you haven’t tried it, give it a try. Just remember to consult your physician when you’re beginning a new exercise plan.
Michael Shaw is a certified master fitness trainer and sports performance nutrition specialist with Above and Beyond Physiques, owner of Shaw Fitness LLC, a member of the Maryland Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, and a fitness and fashion model manager. You can schedule to meet him at Snap Fitness in Middletown or reach him at www.michaelroyshaw.com.