With ten gold medals between them, cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny helped Team GB to an emphatic victory at the recent Rio Olympics. In fact, the whole team made their nation proud.
Beyond the heroics of our Olympians however, we have another success story. A love story, to be exact. Having met in 2010, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny soon became the nation’s sweethearts; getting engaged on Christmas Day 2014 and setting our front rooms alight with every competition they’ve taken part in.
At only 24 years old, Laura Trott has won more gold medals than any other British woman, with four under her belt. She’s an instantly recognisable athlete and a great ambassador for women getting into sport. Her other half has won six gold medals for Team GB, and alongside Chris Hoy is the joint holder of the highest number of Olympic gold medals for a British athlete. Suffice to say that, together, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny are a formidable pair.
Their relationship got us thinking; is there a formula for their success?
Research undertaken by Fitness First Clubs found that more than one in five people (23%) DO prefer to go to the gym with a partner.
With this in mind, we spoke to Carly Tierney, our health and fitness expert and personal trainer, to try and get to the bottom of whether or not hitting the gym with your partner has its merits.
Pros of having a gym buddy
How's my technique?
You have someone there to spot you at the very least. To ‘spot’ somebody in the gym is to watch for their technique while working out, a phrase you’ll hear thrown about a lot in the weight room. It builds trust, whether that’s for your partner or even just a friend.
Carly commented on the benefits of having your SO with you: “When couples workout together, they can help each other during the exercises. Having your partner there to help and support you builds trust.”
This is an invaluable benefit, and one that could potentially save you from an injury.
It's all about communication
Like anything, what you put into the relationship you get right back. Similarly, the relationship you take into the gym should come out stronger and better equipped for when it’s time to go home. Back-and-forth is vital, and with strong communication you’ll form a great workout duo.
“Working out together can set a pattern for how you communicate in other relationship/life situations. Showing patience, checking in or making sure your partner is doing okay are all great communication methods that can be utilised outside the gym.”
Time spent together is invaluable, whether that’s in the gym or at home. Seeing your partner make that last unbearable rep will inspire you to push on.
You can't bail on your partner!
When you’re not quite feeling a workout, it’s far too easy to call a friend and bow out. Try bailing on your partner, however, and it’s a much different situation…
It’s a joint effort, and when one of you doesn’t pull your weight it’s much more noticeable. It’s so much harder to hide when your workout partner is also the one you’re sharing living space with!
A study conducted by University College London in 2015 found that, out of 3,700 cohabiting and married couples, nearly 70% of those who worked out together were still going to the gym two years later at least once a week. The evidence speaks for itself!
Sharing the same lifestyle with your partner promotes wellbeing for both of you, as you’re moving in a positive direction - together. It’s a lot easier to get out of a routine than into one, so to have a source of constant support by your side is invaluable.
Beat stress with help from your SO
You don’t need to be a diehard fitness advocate to know how stress-busting exercise can be – you’ll have heard it all before. But the benefits of a good hard workout on your mental health really aren’t highlighted enough.
Carly commented on the benefits of endorphins and how working out can alleviate the everyday stresses of life:
“It can reduce stress. Stress can be kept at bay by working out and spending regular time together. Exercise releases endorphins – ‘happy hormones’ – into the body and that can keep a relationship strong.”
After a hard week, joining forces with your partner to smash through stress is a wonderful thing. It creates a deeper bond and, with some healthy competition, it can inject a little vigour into a relationship.
Cons - should I go it alone?
Can you rely on somebody else?
This depends on strength, not just of the relationship but of you and your partner. If your significant other doesn’t share similar fitness goals (or any fitness goals at all) then things can get tricky.
We’re not all the same, and our goals often differ. What happens, for example, if one of you reaches your goals quicker and more effectively than the other?
Carly Tierney said that this can cause jealousy, resentment and frustration:
“In the gym, resentment and bad feelings can take place. You’re both eating and training together and yet one of you is seeing better results. Even if you’re part of a same-sex couple, people are individual and identical plans won’t equal identical results. This can lead to arguments and frustration.”
It’s important to be realistic here. Both of you know what you’re each capable of, what’s not going to work and what you’re able to stick to. If you’ve not got the discipline, you may be better exercising solo, or finding another workout buddy.
In the heat of the moment...
If you find yourself snapping at your partner in the gym or getting worked up, going it alone might be the best option. After all, the gym is where our blood gets pumping and the adrenaline can affect us all.
Carly had this to say:
“A big disadvantage of working out together is that one might become a nag or over-bearing whilst trying to motivate and push the other to workout. They may mean well, but it is taken all wrong and could cause conflict in the relationship.”
What if the gym is 'my' space?
Setting boundaries is vital to a relationship. We’re all individuals and don’t have to share everything with each other.
For some, the gym is a getaway in which you set personal goals and work towards them – alone. If you prefer playing by your own rules, then exercising solo is probably best.
Carly offered her expert insight on the subject:
“Working out together might not be a good option for people who already spend a lot of time together. People use their workouts for many purposes. One of the biggest (other than health) is to have a getaway and be able to just have time to themselves and unwind. If their partner imposes on this time, that could cause resentment.”
If a particular gym is your partner’s domain, they might not want you in there too. Don’t take it to heart – personal space is important, so try not to take it to heart.
Making time for each other can be tricky
We all have different schedules. Between work and our social lives, making time for each other is easier said than done. If you find yourself prioritising certain things over a workout with your partner, trouble may be on the horizon. You should find the time, but you can’t be expected to miss an important after-work get-together because you have an aerobics class with your other half.
Carly shared her experience to shed some light on negotiating busy schedules:
“Trying to manage schedules can be difficult. Finding time in two active people’s lives isn’t always easy. One may put their schedule and time over the other, causing distress in the relationship.”
A lot of people are under the impression that working out to maintain a healthy lifestyle will dominate your spare time. In fact it’s not as much as you think. We are recommended to undergo a minimum 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, with two strength training sessions per week and while this may sound like a lot, it actually works out at just half an hour, five times a week.
So if your schedules won’t really accommodate a double workout, you can always go it alone and find quality time elsewhere in the relationship.
Some final thoughts
Communication is important, and whether or not your workout will be enhanced by your partner depends on a few things.
If you’re both at different fitness levels, you must be able to help your partner’s progress where possible, while at the same time pushing yourself.
To get to Laura and Jason’s level, you need to communicate with each other; find out what you both want to achieve and find a solution that works for the pair of you. The Golden Couple weren’t that fond of each other to begin with, but by talking with each other they both agreed to conquer their goals together and take on the world. You can too!