Instead of the typical movie and dinner, Nayema Gordon, 24, and Emmanuel (AKA Manny) Bentum, 29, chose a hike and brunch for their first date. Fast forward two years later, they’re fitness baes who share workouts on Instagram, along with their love of fitness and each other.
“We’ve always found common ground when it comes to health and fitness,” says Bentum, a natural health coach. “It also makes a world of difference to have someone you love encourage you and hold you accountable for your health. We all need it at some point.”
Finding your soul mate is no easy task for most. So you’re blessed beyond belief if that soul mate is also your “swole mate.” It would seem simple: just hook up with someone at the gym. Hot bodies, pheromones raging — it happens a lot! But you want a long-lasting relationship with healthful benefits. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen found that having an exercise partner increases how much we workout, so let’s get you one of those.
If the idea of a workout buddy/bed buddy/life buddy sounds like a sweaty, romantic idea, here are a five things you should keep in mind:
1. Opposites attract, but not when it comes to values!
“If you are a subdued person who is drawn to someone more charming and funny – great!” says Addie Sellers, dating coach and owner of Circle of Love Coaching. “However, if you are someone who eats clean and considers food as a life source, dating someone who’s main caloric intake is from McDonald’s won’t work!” Some people are good at pulling energy out of you, and maybe you need someone like that in your life. You want to be with a mate who is all in with you on nutrition and the workout. It can be a struggle to eat healthy. Keep your eye for a partner who will enjoy the struggle with you.
2. Look for someone who is stronger.
Challenge yourself to be with someone more active. “When you do this, one of two things is going to happen: you will stretch to their way of life or they will stretch to yours, but there will be acceptance and change,” Sellers says. That doesn’t mean look for a pro-body builder, while you’re a beginner. But maybe this person goes a little further than you – runs longer, will do an extra set, or practices yoga at a higher level. They will only inspire you to up your game.
3. Make sure they’re reliable.
This person shouldn’t stand you up and won’t have lame excuses for not showing up (“I stayed out too late. I’m tired.”). Like any relationship, you desire someone you can count on. By the way, YOU should be reliable, too.
You love Zumba, cycling classes and and endurance walks on the treadmill. He prefers hard-core strength training circuits and does CrossFit 3 days a week. You might have common ground in other areas, but not on the fitness level. Choose a partner who loves the kinds of workouts you love.
5. Get the kind of encouragement you need.
There’s a difference between cheering and barking. If his comments to you while you’re trying to hold a plank or perform a pull up sound condescending, then he’s not the partner for you. True swole mates lift each other — emotionally — at the gym and at home.
“As self sufficient as we are in the gym, I believe we both need a little push when it comes to our fitness goals,” Bentum says. “We balance each other out and enjoy reaching new goals together.”
Stacy Julien is editor in-chief of Crush Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @stacyjs_fitlife .