Most women I know are concerned with two things: health and relationships. By virtue of being human it seems health and relationships are what we crave most. But neither arrives without effort, and may I suggest they need not be distinct and separate pursuits?
When I first met my husband, I had a complex about going out and exercising because I felt vulnerable and on display. Sexual harassment from strange men happened all too often and made me feel unsafe during runs. I liked yoga and dance classes and always felt comfortable there, but I couldn’t afford them on a regular basis.
My husband, Rickard, is a natural runner and has finished several marathons including an Ironman competition–which is a competition where people swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, then run a full marathon–all in one miserable day.
Rickard wanted to share his love for exercise with me, but I was very reluctant to join him. After a lot of prying I was able to explain my hang-ups toward public exercise. He encouraged me and argued that if we were to work out together I would feel completely safe and nobody would bother me with him by my side. So we started to work out together and he was right.
I did feel safe with him, but Rickard was in dramatically better shape than I was. He could run circles around me and do three times as many reps of any specific exercise we tried together. That gave me anxiety. I felt weak not being able to keep up and I felt guilty for holding him back. He sensed the anxiety and initiated an honest conversation about it.
We agreed to try to find ways of exercising together that were more compatible. We scoured YouTube looking for couples’ exercises that looked fun and compelling. To our surprise, there was practically nothing out there that worked for us. All the partner moves had several flaws: They didn’t account for fitness level disparity, or they required equipment, or they required extreme body types like Arnold Schwarzenegger types lifting up tiny girlfriends). That’s when we were inspired to make up our own moves. We decided to call our collection “Happy Couple Workout”.
Since then, we’ve gotten married, had a baby, and I feel and look healthier than I ever did pre-pregnancy. An added bonus? Working out together became built in quality time and an opportunity to make each other feel loved.
Gary Chapman wrote a book called The Five Love Languages, and in it he talks about your “love tank” and how it regularly needs to be filled. Positive touch and a need for quality time together were two of the five love languages that spoke to Rickard and I the most. But between our busy schedules, a tight budget, and the frustrations of living in a small one-bedroom apartment with a baby, its easy to let our relationship start running on fumes.
We learned quickly that working out as a couple kept our love tanks full. We get our oxytocin kick from touch and exercise, and rarely feel starved for affection. Rickard and I do what we can because more than anything we want to be there for our daughter. Mother and father, husband and wife; we want her to take comfort in knowing that we will never leave each other behind—not even when it comes to fitness.
Alana and her husband have cultivate 24 unique exercises for couples on a 40 minute workout DVD called Happy Couple Workout.