Here are your options: walk through a dense mine field or breach the subject of going to the gym with your significant other? Personally, I’ll take my chances with the mines. Talking fitness with a girlfriend can be hazardous territory. With a little tact and a few tips you might be able to take your relationship to a new level and introduce one of your passions to the other.
Firstly, you need to engage in some self reflection. As bodybuilders, most of us should probably seek treatment for some flavor of obsessive compulsive disorder – at least that’s the opinion of our non-bodybuilder friends. We pop handfuls of horse pills, drink lumpy foul-smelling concoctions of casein-whey-egg white protein blends that most palates reject as poison. We spend so much time in the gym that the foam on most of the equipment retains the shape of our body print .Our goals are impossible for most to bend their minds around; likewise, most bodybuilders have trouble understanding anything but the most extreme goals. You must learn to respect the fitness goals of others – even if their goal isn’t to obtain perfect size and symmetry. Although many of us completely understand what it takes to have sculpted abs and sleeve-stretching guns, we rarely understand the true desires of casual fitness seekers.
So how do you open a dialogue that results in your girlfriend going to the gym with you? Your best bet is to let her bring it up. Let me give you a few scenarios. You return home from the gym and instantly begin copping flack about how you spend too much time there. Turn it around. “Baby, you’re absolutely right. That’s time we could be spending together. I was just thinking how great it would be if you started coming with me!” That’s one option. Or, say you’re watching one of those crappy celebrity shows on E!, and you’re girlfriend says, “I wish I looked like Jessica Simpson. If I had a trainer like she does, I bet I would.” You come back with, “I wish you looked like Jessica Simpson too!” No wait, scratch that. Instead try the safer, “Hey, if you are serious why don’t you let me be your personal trainer?” These are just some ideas to start rolling out; you can probably come up with something on your own. I will tell you this: anything that has the words “you” and “fat” are sure to strike you out and make your life miserable.
Now we’re ready to talk about what happens once you’ve managed to get a thumbs-up to starting a fitness program. The most important first step is to educate your new trainee about the importance of dieting . The average gym member might bust his ass for the 30 minutes he/she spends in the gym, but when he leaves, he thinks it ends there. Explain that doing a few extra minutes of cardio can’t undo the damage of a few extra potato chips. Emphasize the importance of quality protein. The average female’s diet is strongly lacking in the protein department. Most importantly, have an organized plan. Talk to your girlfriend. Chances are she’s got a friend who tried one of the million diets out there and she’s interested in trying the same one. As long as it’s not completely retarded, you should support her trying it. If she already has faith in it, she’s more likely to stick to it and see results. Maybe it’s not the best diet out there, but remember, her goals will not likely to require the level of diet insanity your goals require.
I would caution you against adding too many supplements too quickly. Most novices see rapid results simply from becoming more active and improving their diets. You might look at supplements as reserves to bring in later when the newbie gains wear off. Now, to play devil’s advocate, you might consider starting a decent supplement regimen early on in hopes of every bit of early success spurring her on towards more success. Regardless, keep the plan simple. SesaThin and fish oil are a great combo. One thing that I do suggest is one of the fruity protein powders out there. My fiancé is a HUGE fan of Primaforce’s Substance WPI line.
Now that you’ve got the diet and supplements down, it’s time to move on to designing a workout routine.Keep it simple and fun. 2-3 short (about 30-45 minute) weight lifting sessions and 3-5 days of cardio are all the average trainee will need to see the results they want. Start off slow and build up. Simple body weight exercises are a great place for most females to start—push-ups, chins, squats, lunges, etc. Tweak the program to incorporate activities she likes and stay away from things she hates. If she’s in tears at the end of every set of squats or she’s limping around at work, chances are she’s not going to stick with it over the course of several weeks. Most importantly, make sure she understands how to do the exercises with proper form—injuries are a recipe for failure. As her core strength and confidence increase, you can begin to incorporate new and more challenging exercises. Whatever routine you decide on, write it down and make sure she understands the terminology you use.
Another little tip is to keep her off the scale! This may be one of your greatest challenges. Convince her to commit to a 4 week tour of duty. Take pre-program measurements (tape measurements and body fat!) and pictures, then don’t measure again until the end of the third week. Everyone knows weight can fluctuate wildly from day to day. For inexperienced trainees, this is a quick ticket to demoralization. This will take a little coercing, but is something I have found to be highly successful.
Finally, be supportive and positive at all times. Don’t give her a quick tour of the gym the first day only to abandon her on day two. When she’s hungry, tell her how proud of her you are for sticking it out and being so committed. When she’s tired, find an area she was concerned about and complement her on how good it looks. Do whatever it takes to keep her motivated!
In time, as dieting, maturity and confidence in her strength at the gym improve; you can begin to introduce her to more advanced techniques or programs. Offer her books and articles to read and let her start taking a more active role in the planning. Always be receptive and quick to adapt to any parts of the program she’s having problems with. Most importantly, remember to keep it fun. Most people have real jobs to stress them out – going to the gym should be a chance to work some of that stress off! If you play your cards right, you might end up with a gym partner that smells way better and does a lot less grunting and flexing than any you’ve had in the past!