Whatever particular niche of fitness goal you’re trying to address – be it getting ripped, improving cardio performance or just generally trying to lose the Christmas paunch – it’s generally assumed that it’s a solo fight for you to engage in. A mental torture palace where you engage in a regimented daily routine, fighting against the odds on your own to achieve success. After toiling away at this harrowing training for years in a metaphorical Rocky-montage you can then emerge victorious, exultantly claiming that you did it “my way” – a bit like Frank Sinatra. The plaudits and accolades will then rain down on you as you bask in the…..
….and the dream dissolves.
It is true that the route to success can be like that described above, but in our experience it may not be the optimum method of achieving your goals. It also may not be the best way to keep your partner or family on-side throughout the journey you’ve embarked on. Think about it for a minute – say you’re a 30-something with a young family – do you really want to be taking a couple of hours out of their lives every single day while you work on your fitness plan? A lot of folk might cynically say “yes” to this – working out can be great “me time” for you to escape the daily grind.
We can certainly empathise with that position. However, in this blog post we offer an alternative viewpoint for you to help achieve and (more importantly) maintain your fitness targets whilst engaging your partner and family in the process. In this way, everyone’s a winner and it is much more conducive to longer-term success.
1 – Share the Motivation
A common driver for wanting to get fit is the ‘couch potato’ syndrome. You and your partner slip into bad habits of evening TV, booze and takeaway food, which when combined with the Covid-19 social-distancing situation can lead to fairly rapid weight gains for both of you, irrespective of current training levels.
Embarking on a combined fitness and diet plan in tandem is a great way of motivating each other in a symbiotic way and reducing the tendency to make that call to Uber-Eats.
By ‘symbiotic’, I mean that:
- You’ve taken the decision to change course jointly and you then both effectively have a pact to pursue the fitness journey together (you could say a bit like marriage!)
- You can motivate your partner if they are feeling flat or lacking drive on a particular day. This is an incredibly effective way of pushing each other towards your joint goals. Think about project managers who are successful in the workplace – they encourage teams (scrums) to work together towards common goals which could not be achieved individually. The same is true of fitness goals.
Let’s be real here. How many people start a fitness program in the New Year each and every year? The key point here is that they have to start from scratch each time because they did not see it through the previous year. Working out within the family can help reduce that breakdown in activity which so often occurs.
And let’s not forget the kids in this. Child obesity is running rampant in the UK with an incredible 1 in 5 kids considered to be in the ‘weight danger zone’ and picking up negative habits which can stay with them for a lifetime. Engaging the kids, even if it’s doing a Joe Wicks workout in front of the telly can reset their mindset towards physical activity. If they see mum and dad working together, they will want to be part of it too.
2 – Joint Nutrition Goals
You’ve meticulously soaked your porridge oats overnight, prepared your protein shakes and cooked up a bunch of chicken breasts to eat through the day, but then your partner fires up the oven again to cook his/her junk food separately. Not only is the smell of that stuff irresistible to you and difficult to ignore, but it’s wasting gas/electricity by repeatedly cooking food independently. It gets worse if the kids want different meals too.
It sounds obvious, but trying to move towards shared meals and combined nutrition goals is a far more efficient way of proceeding. Healthy, protein-based meals do not have to be difficult to cook, or disconcerting to the tastebuds. For example, check out our great Sticky King Prawn recipe which packs in 32g of protein but is under 400 calories.
Of course, supplements and shakes can be added on top of this as required, but in our view it’s certainly sensible to try and share as many common factors of your daily meals as possible. A bit like all VAG-group cars (Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda, Audi etc) all share common underpinnings, but then are free to diverge in terms of visual design.
3 – Instant Spotting Partner
A key area in which training can be combined is in the area of ‘spotting’ in your home gym. Spotting is the mutual activity whereby you take it in turns to support, encourage, aid and protect your training partner during a workout. What better person to help do this then a member of your family?
Training with free-weights can often be enhanced by spotting – time and time again, best muscle gains are obtained by squeezing out extra reps with dumbbells or barbells which you may not feel comfortable doing on your own – you can get pinned down under free weights and even tear muscles if you have to drop the weights awkwardly when you have pushed too far on your own.
Luckily, your spotting partner does not have to be built like Arnold in order to support your arms for extra reps on arm, chest and shoulder presses. As long as they are able to add some upwards pressure and stability under the arms then you can squeeze out some more, rip those muscle fibres and enhance future growth. Then you can return the favour for them.
It’s worth also remembering that your partner doesn’t have to be at your level to participate in the training with you. Do you think Tyson Fury is boxing with people his equal or Geraint Thomas always cycling with other Tour De France riders? It’s not the case. It’s not uncommon for partners to go out together with one person jogging and the other cycling. If they’re feeling particularly lazy, they could even take an electric scooter around the park with you while you do your intervals. It’s the cooperation which is important.
4 – Tracking Progress
With more and more smartphone apps and technology coming out to help shape your fitness life, it has never been easier to track progress against both yourself and social media ‘friends’. This is especially true for cardio-based activities like running and cycling where heart-rate and distance can easily be measured by electronics.
With other types of fitness programmes, it is more fiddly and time-consuming to track progress. For instance, tracking max reps and max weight achieved per weight training set for each muscle group is difficult to do whilst you’re also actually engaged in the exercises. You don’t want to be grabbing a pen when you’re in recovery between sets. The same is true of weight measurements if you’re looking to slim down (although the latest bluetooth weighing scales are pretty nifty in that department!).
Having a family training partner available to do this kind of log/record-taking can really help streamline the process and provide invaluable data to track progress effectively. Having hard-results in tabular or graph form for each of you can really aid with the motivation we were talking about above. Pin that weight loss graph on the fridge door!
5 – Improved Communication
Finally – training as partners or as a family can have great benefits in the cohesion and communication of your family bubble. Ultimately this will have knock-on benefits for all aspects of your lives together – be that fitness-wise, social-wise, health-wise or even by improving your love-life!
Next time you’re sweating away in your home gym or out pounding the pavement on a solo training run, have a think about how you could start engaging as a team within the family unit and how much that could improve all of your progress.