This post was inspired by a reader who asked how to get her partner to join the fitness journey she already started. I can’t let a reader question go unanswered!
I’ll start by pointing out that your partner needs to have some inkling of desire to want to participate in fitness in order for these to work. Often, a partner who doesn’t exercise doesn’t know where to begin or needs some motivation to get started, and these tips can help. But if your partner absolutely and stubbornly has no interest in exercising, it’s unlikely you’ll change their mind quickly.
Don’t make them feel bad about themselves.
This sounds obvious, but I’m not just talking about being outright mean. Pointing out that your partner should be exercising or should be eating differently can be taken as criticism. Even if you have their best interests in mind, be careful not to make your partner feel like his or her current lifestyle choices are wrong.
Plan activity into your daily life.
Suggest going for a walk after dinner to talk about your day. Plan a bike ride into your weekend date or family outing. Helping your partner get active is a good start, even if the activity isn’t intense.
Make it about you.
Let your partner know that he or she can be supportive of your fitness journey by joining you because working out with the person you care about most will hold you accountable and motivate you. Your partner may be more willing to hit the gym if it’s a favor to you.
Share your progress.
Your partner might be more motivated to work out if he or she sees your good results. If you hit a new PR in weight lifting or your mile time, talk about it. Let your partner know if you’ve lost weight, fit into a new clothing size or you have more energy and less joint pain. Your partner may realize there’s something to this working out thing, or want to keep up with you.
Go with your partner.
The gym can be an intimidating place and finding motivation to work out alone can be difficult for a newbie. Even if you’re someone who likes to exercise solo, try to find the time and energy to accompany them if it’s important to you that they continue the habit.
Make it fun.
Don’t choose jogging as the workout you do together if your partner would rather die than go for a run. Their first workout probably shouldn’t be the one that leaves you unable to walk for three days. Pick something doable and fun to build their confidence and show them exercising isn’t so bad. Ask if there is a type of exercise they would like to try. Sign up for some new classes at your gym. You might find something you didn’t know you liked while introducing your partner to fitness.
Help them set a goal.
A realistic but challenging goal will help keep your partner on track with exercising. It doesn’t have to be running a marathon or participating in a bikini competition. It might be running a mile without stopping or feeling comfortable squatting with a barbell. No goal is too small and every achievement is valuable.
Set up a reward system for both you and your partner. If you achieve a fitness goal or reach a certain number of workouts in a set time period, give yourselves more free spending cash, make a toast, treat yourself to a new pair of gym shorts, or whatever motivates you to keep exercising.
Brag about your partner.
It’s a great feeling when you know your partner is proud of you. Tell them you’ve noticed their effort and think it’s awesome they’re working out. If they’re okay with it, post a picture on Facebook or Instagram of their first fitness class or the finish line of their first race.
In my relationship, my husband enjoys cycling, so I try to bike with him as much as possible. Last summer, he noticed I was spending a lot of my time away from him running, so he decided to join. While he had no interest in training for a half marathon, he was willing to run if I agreed to sign up for a 5K with him and run a couple 1-mile loops around our neighborhood together. I was surprised to find he was actually pretty fast, and I told him so. He felt good about running after that because he was proud to be good at a physical activity. I posted on Facebook about the 5K we did together and told our friends and family what a quick runner he is. I plan to buy him a pair of good running shoes before he starts to train for his next race.
Have you ever had a partner encourage you to start exercising? What worked and what didn’t?