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Exercise bonding

Jason Hildago ( -- Do you exercise for personal health or to relieve stress? Perhaps you exercise to help enhance those really intimate moments with your partner.

Maybe you just want to live as long and as healthy as you can together. Then you look toward the couch and see your special someone diligently working out his arm and finger muscles with some remote control and chip-dipping action.

So how do you pry a sedentary mate off the sofa long enough to reclaim territory from an advancing beer gut or expanding hips?

Threats of unimaginable pain and suffering might work well. But for nonviolent types, a little one-on-one time might help. Share the health.

"Nothing's better than having your health and being able to share that with somebody you love and care about," says DeWayne Manning, a personal trainer and kickboxing instructor in Reno, Nev.

"Anytime you can do things together (with your partner), like running at the beach or playing golf together, it's worth its weight in gold." Different couples might benefit from different approaches. Still, certain ideas usually work across the board.

One is finding a common interest.

"Find what your mate likes," Manning says. "Exercising together doesn't mean you have to be in a gym.

"You can do other things like playing sports or walking." Another idea is to compromise and make concessions, Manning says. Perhaps your partner enjoys hiking, for example, while you, on the other hand, are not that crazy about it.

You can then try to see if your partner is open to the idea of hiking together, with the condition that you'll also do an activity that you enjoy next.

This allows you to share things you both enjoy. You might even grow to like these new activities as well. Ease up somewhat

The key is not to force or pressure your partner. "Some partners tend to be overbearing, especially males to females," says Manning, who admits being guilty of that mistake in the past. "If you're training with somebody else, you've got to be patient with (them)."

As a partner, part of your job is to know your mate's limitations; you have to know when to push and when to back off a little bit, Manning says. Most partners will be willing to make an effort to please their mate as long as they understand that it's good for their relationship.

"It's like dealing with a kid sometimes," Manning says. "If you pressure and push them to do something without making them understand why, they'll fight it twice as hard." So serious, it hurts.

On the other hand, you can also have couples who might be so serious about working out that they end up alienating each other, says Sandi Meyers, fitness director of Sports West Athletic Club in Reno.

"Some people can get too competitive with each other," Meyers says. The important thing is not to get discouraged if it looks like exercising together with your partner just doesn't seem to be working out. That's because men and women just have different goals, sometimes. Most men, for example, tend to concentrate more on strength, Meyers says.

Women, on the other hand, tend to focus more on toning and cardio work. "Working out can be a very individual thing," Meyers says. "Personally, I just love it when I go on my runs. Sometimes, I just want to be by myself when I work out." But that doesn't mean it can't work.

Meyers says she sees couples at her gym who work out together regularly.

"They're usually working out toward the same fitness goals, and it enhances not just their workout but their relationship as well." And despite the fact that domestic squabbles might occasionally make their way into a workout, Manning says exercising with your partner can still be very rewarding.

"You see their growth and development right before your eyes," Manning says. "Anytime you have somebody you care about, you want them to be in the best health that they can be.

"You just want to grow old and live together."

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