Workout Tips

Valentine's Day Partner Workout: The Psychology

How working out with your significant other can improve accountability, intimacy and results.


Valentine’s Day traditions are laced heavily with food. Fancy dinners, boxes of chocolates and those little, chalky message candies that last longer than most relationships. Sure, cheating (on your diet, that is) has its place but as a dedicated M&F reader, you’re more into year-round healthy living than week-long junk binges. So convincing your Valentine to hit the gym with you seems a logical date—or series of dates—for this time of year. But you have to play your cards right, says Greg Chertok, M.Ed., CC-AASP, a sport psychology consultant with Telos Sport Psychology Coaching ( Working out as a couple can boost exercise adherence, or it can totally complicate things. To avoid the latter, take a closer look at the research.

Two is One, One is None

Some people are thriving solo trainers—people who hit the gym everyday, without fail, grunting out each rep on their own. The solitude is somehow edifying. But others can benefit from a little “group” training.

“Exercise adherence seems to strengthen when two factors are involved: accountability and social support,” says Chertok. “And both factors are satisfied when working out with a buddy or partner.”

Chertok pointed out that this applies to electronic accountability partners like those made by FitBit ( “Imagine how much more effective this becomes when it’s a living, breathing human beside you,” he adds.


Going it Alone

“Studies do show that working out in groups increases exercise adherence over working out individually,” Chertok says. “A meta-analysis by Carron & Burke in 2005 found that exercising with others was superior for adherence in comparison to exercising alone. Also, Carron and his associates found that participation in classes characterized by higher task cohesiveness or higher social cohesiveness was superior to participation in standard exercise classes.”

Dragging your guy or girl out to the gym, then, may help the both of you stick to your chosen workout protocols—perhaps more so if you are doing the same workout.