Yeah, you totally wouldn’t want to do this move with your girlfriend. Especially if she’s the shirtless one.
Starting out with the line, “I’ll admit that there may be some good reasons to bring along your significant other when you hit the gym, like providing her with the opportunity to do something about the hail damage on her a**” makes it clear from the get-go that writer James Fell is doing his best to provoke us women-folk into harpy shrieks and mascara-stained histrionics over his article “Don’t Bring Her to the Gym” for Askmen.com. But even though he does his best to sound like your typical meathead misogynist, I think he actually makes a good point. Even if it is for all the wrong reasons.
Do you work out with your significant other? I don’t. And other than the occasional race where we’re joined by Gym Hubby or Sensei Don’s yearly drop-in to TurboKick, none of the Gym Buddies do either. In fact, outside of races, I can’t think of a single one of my friends male or female who works out with their SO. It’s not just a timing issue – many times Gym Hubby and I will be in the gym at the same time and we still don’t workout together. Why is this? Fell makes the case that his wife, whom he admits has a black belt in karate and could probably kick his undimpled a**, seriously cramps his gym style – which he compares to a religious experience and then goes on to talk about sex for three paragraphs making me wonder exactly what church he’s been going to. But anyhow, here’s my take on his six reasons:
1.“You can’t check out the babes.” Good. Then we don’t have to worry about our husbands/boyfriends getting jealous when the men check us out. Not that we court the attention but, as demonstrated by Fell, there is a certain sexual tension in the gym. The other day I was recounting a story to my sister of how a strange man approached Gym Buddy Allison and I at the gym to say, “I hope I don’t sound creepy but I’ve really been enjoying watching you for the past half hour.” (My answer: it wasn’t creepy until you just said that.) and my sister replied, “You are the only person I know who has stuff like that happen!” While I’d like to think I’m the foxiest girl on the weight floor (so not the case), alas it’s just endemic to any mixed-gender gym. Some gyms have more of that meat-market mentality than others and thankfully ours is pretty chill most of the time. But it does make finishing our workout harder if our man doesn’t want us to do our glute-hamstring bridges because the hip thrusting might attract attention.
2.”She’ll check out the babes and ask how she compares.” This one’s easy to solve. Stop answering her. I learned a long time ago not to ask my husband these questions because he answers “I love you.” every time without fail. Even when it makes no grammatical sense. You know who will answer me? My girlfriends. And they know how to answer in a way that is both honest and kind because they can empathize with my insecurities. (They also know when to tell me to stop comparing myself to other people and get to work.) Also, if we’re not working out with our significant others then we’re not worried about them checking out the gym babes and therefore we don’t feel the need to compare. As much.
3. “She’ll distract you” [by asking stupid weight-lifting questions or otherwise trying to chat you up]. Not to play to stereotypes as I know people of both genders who don’t fit into these molds but I think that more women than men like to talk to each other during their workouts. And that’s fine. The Gym Buddies and I love that our workout time doubles as our social time and we make good use of it. Gym Hubby does not like it when I do this and I respect that. By not working out with him.
4. “She won’t listen to you anyway” [thereby starting fights that carry over to home]. I could make the case that this goes both ways. People of both genders generally don’t like unsolicited advice and it can come out sounding more like criticism than help, especially when it comes from a loved one. He makes the case that personal trainers are a neutral third party who can advise your SO without endangering the relationship. I agree. You – either of you – don’t want to put yourself in the position to be rebelled against if your SO gets frustrated with the workout. The personal trainer is getting paid to take that kind of crap from people.
5. “You’ll see her at her worst.” Fell says that watching his woman push through a really sweaty workout is a turn-off (although I know quite a few men who would disagree) adding, “Seriously, do you really want to see her pit stains and smell her B.O.?” But honestly I don’t really want my husband seeing me looking like drowned rat either. Not that he hasn’t seen me at my worst – stomach flu, 2004, still have nightmares about it – but hey I still like to look good for him when I can. I also don’t wax my upper lip in front of him. Gotta keep some of the mystery.
6.”You need guy time.” And we need girl time.
Couples do not have to do everything together. It’s great if fitness is a hobby you enjoy together but don’t feel guilty if you’d rather not workout with your significant other. Fell concludes by writing, “The place is my home away from home. I live with my wife and kids, and they’re awesome and I love them, but sometimes I just need to get the h*** away from everybody. The gym is where family doesn’t intrude, and vice versa. It’s my separate oasis where I go to recharge.” And this is why when people ask me why I first started going to the gym I usually answer, “Free childcare.” Everyone needs a place to escape to sometimes where you can work your emotions out and then come home happier and healthier with more to give to the ones we love so much.
Do you workout with your boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife? Why or why not? For your answering convenience, I’ve embedded a handy poll (click through to see poll if you are reading this in a reader or via e-mail):