"Couples: Fitness Friends For Life", carried out by leading gym chain LA Fitness, revealed that whilst nearly half (46%) of respondents said they worry about their partner's fitness and well being and one in ten (12%) of people feared being widowed young, more than half of the UK population (56%) felt that there is a fitness imbalance in their relationship, whereby one person is notably and visibly fitter than the other.
Dubbed by researchers as "MisFits", the LA Fitness survey uncovers the severe negative ramifications that a fitness imbalance can have on relationships. MisFit couples spoken to amongst a survey sample of 1,000 in the LA Fitness Report, carried out by TickBox researchers, admitted to feeling embarrassed about their partner with 14% of all respondents saying they frequently feel embarrassed by their partner's fitness and appearance.
Sexual activity and fitness
A significant reduction in sexual activity was another common consequence acknowledged by MisFits, with nearly a third (32%) of respondents admitting that their sex lives are directly affected by theirs or their partner's fitness. However, the research also revealed that couples often obstruct each other's fitness regimes as "cupboard love" and "fitness envy" negatively impact on a MisFit Couple's fitness attempts, with over a quarter (25%) of people admitting to being in a relationship where one partner contributes to the other's weight/fitness problems.
Get an LA Fitness buddy
Says Mark Jenkins, Marketing Director at LA Fitness, "We work with our members to get them into the fitness habit and have identified that having a fitness buddy can really help them get into a regular fitness routine. In a time crunched society, your nearest and dearest often makes the ideal fitness buddy. However this research revealed that whilst many people really worry and care about their partner's fitness, in MisFit couples there can be some tensions around the other's motivation to get fit, with nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) claiming they would question their partner's motives if they previously did not work out and then started to take their fitness seriously."
Jane Peters, from Fleet in Hampshire, who took part in the research admitted, "I do feel frustrated that I can't motivate my husband to get fit and feel that we look a little out of place now, we definitely would not be picked out of a crowd as a couple. He has questioned me about who I meet at the gym and asked if my fitness instructor is male or female and obviously feels uneasy as to why I have lost over a stone in the last 8 months, but I try to reassure him, I did it for me - no-one else."
However, Jane admits that she previously contributed to her husband's lack of fitness. "He was a big walker when we met seven years ago but I wasn't so we started to spend weekends eating out and at the movies. I would spend the whole day on Sunday preparing a big evening meal and during the week run into the supermarket on the way home and buy foodie treats for him. I do feel guilty and that I am responsible for his lack of fitness in many ways."
Couples fitness goals
Ros Saunderson, Group Fitness Manager at LA Fitness, adds, "It is important for couples to establish joint fitness goals and rewards. To give couples a real incentive to get fit together, LA Fitness is launching a Two-for-One offer on all new memberships, which we hope will help motivate MisFit Couples to join forces and get fit together."