Will Working Out With Your Partner Lead to Lasting Love or Frustrating Feuds?

When my husband and I met, we were quick to discover multiple shared passions.

In fact, it was our mutual interest in hiking that brought us together in the first place. While descending a peak in Hawaii, we struck up a conversation that blossomed into a relationship despite distance. He lived in Washington while I lived on Oahu. Eventually, we found common ground in Seattle and got married shortly after my move.

Early on, our preferred activities were categorized neatly in an athletic venn diagram.

Yoga and hiking in my circle, cycling and swimming in his circle, and a mix of activities we both enjoyed overlapping sweetly in the middle.

After I moved from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest, the center of shared interests began to expand.

We started swimming laps together in the morning, going on long bikes rides on the weekends, and with the help of his exceptional coaching skills, I even learned how to cross country ski! Trust me, it was a big deal getting this water-loving girl to attempt winter sports.

I take a fair amount of pride in my athletic ability, so I was excited at the challenge of learning new skills and mixing up my routine. But not all introductions to these new pursuits were smooth sailing.

I still remember when my husband’s high optimism in my running abilities led us to sign up for a half marathon trail run. First off, I had never run a half marathon before. Furthermore, I had never run a trail race. But his enthusiasm and promise to help me train and prep for the race kept my anxiety about those details low.

Upon arrival we learned it was actually a qualifying race for professional runners. Also, we had severely underestimated the elevation gain we would experience. I spent more than half of that race trying not to break down crying while secretly raging and blaming my husband for my lack of training. It didn’t help that he wasn’t even breaking a sweat and could hold a full on conversation.

Despite that fluke event, my husband has proved to be a great coach.

Being active together continues to play an important role in our relationship and we cherish that time for connection and intimacy whether we’re on a trail or side by side on our yoga mats.

So how do you know if your partner coach you? Here are 5 questions to ask yourself and discuss with your partner before bestowing the title of ‘coach’.

  1. Have they coached before? - My husband is a former water polo and swim coach and it gives us a HUGE advantage. He understands how to motivate, provide constructive feedback and when to back off. Remember that coaching isn’t specific to the athletic world. Any experience in training whether it be mentoring colleagues, tutoring kids or being in a leadership position at work are all forms of coaching.

  2. Can you be objective with each other? - If a coach gave you a critique, you would listen and take the advice right? Probably with no questions asked. But if that person if your partner, are you still able to view the critique objectively and remember that it’s coming from your coach and not your partner?

  3. Are they (generally) a patient person? - If you’re learning something new, chances are it’s going to take a while to get good, maybe even decent! It’s easy to be hard on yourself as a beginner. The last thing you need is your partner/coach repeating those negative voices in your head because their patience ran out. Tip: If I sense that my husband wants to move at a faster pace than me, I tell him to go on ahead! This gives him the opportunity to move at his desired intensity and end satisfied. Plus, I’m able to set my own pace vs feeling like the pace is being set for me.

  4. Do they genuinely want to share this with you? Maybe this interest is something sacred to your partner that they prefer to do solo. Or maybe it’s their time to connect with with their friends? Check in to make sure the offer to teach or coach is sincere.

  5. Can you leave any qualms on the field/trail/ etc? - Being coached by your partner WILL result in raised tempers, hurt feelings and/or ‘things you wish you didn’t say’ moments. Can you communicate through it and leave it behind before you go home? If not it might be best to find a coach that isn’t so connected to every other aspect of your life.