The benefits of working out together

Mary Catherine and Joe Domaleski on the Charleston bridge.

Mary Catherine and Joe Domaleski on the Charleston bridge.

The new year is upon us, and if you’re like most Americans, then you’re probably contemplating some new fitness goals. Instead of setting the same goals year after year, I have a new one for you – why don’t you make a concerted effort to travel the road of fitness with your husband? The benefits of working out together are endless, but here we’ll share a few.

It’s a time-honored tradition to “take a walk” to clear one’s head, work out problems, and put things into perspective. In this new year, take a walk (or run, hike, bike, etc.) with your life partner.

When my husband Joe and I first married back in 1994, we were overweight. The story of  how I got in shape was first shared as the cover story in this magazine back in January 2006. Although Joe and I both worked on getting in shape, our fitness journeys were largely traveled apart from each other. He did his thing – running and triathlons – and I did my thing – fitness classes and running. About a year ago we decided it would be fun to work out together more often. We’re closer now than we’ve ever been, and this might be the year for you and your honey to give it a try too. Here’s how.

First, recognize that you are two totally different people who are likely to have two different sets of needs and goals.
Whether you married someone a lot like you or your opposite, it’s important to talk about what you both want to get out of your fitness program together. Although Joe and I are both competitive, he’s a more serious runner than I am, so he runs more often and at a faster pace than I do. I like to compete, but I also like the quality time spent with him and other friends. We both run to stay in shape. What do you and your spouse hope to get out of a fitness program – companionship, weight loss, or something else?

Next, decide ahead of time how much alone time each of you wants.
Not every workout Joe and I do is completed together. He needs “his space” and downtime, so he’s more inclined to run alone. I really like to run with others, and so we only run together a few times a week. Sometimes I’ll run on the treadmill at the gym too, which is not one of Joe’s favorite workouts. I also run/walk with some of the Fayette Woman staff. You don’t have to make every workout a joint adventure.

Be aware of each other’s relative ability.
One of you might be a fast runner while the other is more of a walking enthusiast. That’s okay, but you’ll want to adjust your effort accordingly. Although I’m no slow poke, when Joe and I run together he’s often 10 feet ahead of me – he can’t help it. It used to bother me, but now I’m used to it. I’m just glad he’s out there with me. A few years ago he suffered from asthma, and I was the faster runner as he labored behind me. What’s important is that we’re both out there for each other.

Set some goals to accomplish together.
This past summer, Joe and I trained together so we could run the Tupelo Marathon together over Labor Day weekend. We had a blast. It was so enjoyable that we ran another race together during our anniversary weekend at the Chattanooga CityTrail 30K race. In both cases, we made a whole weekend of our adventures (which you can read about on our blog). A few years ago, a married couple who are friends of ours hiked the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail together! Now that’s a goal. What could you and your husband set for a fitness goal?
If you still have children living at home, you may want to include them – but save some “mommy and daddy” time for yourselves, too. The strongest families are built on solid marriages. Use your time together to work not only on your fitness but your relationship as well. There’s something about doing things together that creates a comfortable environment for sharing and caring.

You might be thinking, “This all sounds great, but my husband will never go for it.” You may need to nudge your husband to get started. Maybe you’re the one who’s not so sure. Start easy with something simple you both can do, like walking. Not everyone wants to train for a marathon together. Just start where you’re at and build from there. You’ll both be glad you did.

Joe and I both hope to see more of you (and your husbands) out on the roads, paths, and trails of Fayette County this year. Read more about our adventures as married runners and get some practical tips by visiting my new blog at We’re also on Facebook; just search on “” Here’s to a healthy New Year from my family to yours!

Mary Catherine Domaleski

A native of Fayette County, I am a wife, mother of three, personal trainer, and group fitness instructor. I teach fitness classes professionally at World Gym here in Fayette County, as well as donate time to teach free classes at a number of church-sponsored locations around the area.

December 31, 2015
December 31, 2015