Does your significant other make the perfect workout partner? On the eve of Valentine's Day, three couples share workout mantras for healthier bodies and relationships
Siddharth Shukla and Disha Khanna at their home gym. PIC/Sneha Kharabe
For the long haul
In 2014, Siddharth Shukla and Disha Khanna took a decision that changed their lives and earned them the wrath of their loved ones. They turned vegan. The couple, married for six years, took the decision in a bid to improve their health. "We were really unfit. I was over 90 kgs, and operated upon several times for kidney stones. Disha suffered from a lot of hormonal problems," says Shukla, 38. They also decided to start running. Shukla started barefoot running first, Khanna joined him seven months later. "Initially, I didn't enjoy it and my pace was slow. Once I started losing weight, I felt better," says Khanna, 31.
The couple, who runs an HR placement firm, also participate in marathons together. They are heavily influenced by Milind Soman and his barefoot running community, and often take tips from the group (they chat on WhatsApp).
Their day follows a fixed plan. "We wake up 4.30 am, warm up, run for an hour and a half, return, have a smoothie and then, do strength training. We exercise for at least two hours daily," says Shukla. If they miss a morning routine, they do it at night. If they're on holiday, they either go swimming or for long walks.
For both, the biggest challenge came from their loved ones, who objected to their new dietary routine, which only served to make the couple stronger in their beliefs.
He says: When working out together, remember there is a difference between the male and female bodies, so pace yourself to match the other. This teaches you a lot of patience.
She says: Having someone support and encourage you is the best motivation to get fit. Working out together will help both achieve fitness goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Shweta Sangtani and Aashish Mehrotra work out at Marine Drive. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Twitter gets fitter
A few days back, Aashish Mehrotra and Shweta Sangtani posted a photograph of themselves, post a workout session, using the hashtag *Twittergetsfitter. The photo received a lot of positive feedback, with many commenting on how good they looked and applauding their fitness journey. "We were recently looking at a photo of ourselves before we started working out and we look like little dumplings," laughs advocate Sangtani. "We've seen the change in ourselves and that is great."
The couple's fitness journey began after they started living together. "We both realised we had become slobs, so decided to start running at least," she adds.
It was post their wedding in November 2015, and the shift to a new residence, that the two got serious. Sangtani chose to continue with running because she liked the outdoors. "She motivated me. I would see her get up at 4.45 am and head out. It made me feel terrible," shares Mehrotra, who works as video lead at a communications firm.
He convinced Sangtani to join him and the two started running together. "In those early days, I couldn't keep up with her and would tire after 20 minutes. That pushed me to work harder, I knew I had to give her a fight," he says. On days when they couldn't run together, they would screenshot the timings and send each other.
The couple goes running, works out at home; and goes to the gym together. "It makes me happy when she comes along. I feel like I am in a safe space. Working out doesn't feel like a chore when she is there," says Mehrotra.
Going to the gym has become a favourite activity. "We usually walk to the gym and back, bitching about work, life and everything else. I like that time together," adds Sangtani.
He says: If you're guiding your partner, don't push her down. Your body is going to be stronger, and she may not be able to train the way you do. Also, positive reinforcement always helps.
She says: It helps to have someone around who is keeping a check on me, tell me where I'm going wrong. It is good motivation too - it's easier to pick up your shoes and go running if you have company.
Sumit Kain and Vidushi. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The health freak and reluctant convert
Sumit Kain, 34, grew up watching his entire family hooked to keeping fit. His parents did yoga and went for walks, daily. Staying fit was ingrained in him from childhood. It was natural then that when planning his wedding with Vidushi - fitness was a hot topic.
An arranged marriage, the duo spoke a lot before the wedding. "She told me she had been trying to lose weight. I suggested a few exercises. The aim was to get her hooked to exercise," says Kain, founder of a media company. "He started telling me about eating right, and would message me a list of exercises to do at the gym. I had to report to him daily," laughs Vidushi, 31, an associate professor of mass media.
Once they moved into a new home post marriage, in the months it took them to furnish the place, they turned their spacious hall into a makeshift gym. They started working out together, a practice that has sustained itself through four years of marriage, and a pregnancy. They do exercises and weight training at home, or practise in the park near their residence. Since they cannot leave their two-year-old son Suvir alone, he joins them too - attempting to stretch out on their mats or do crunches.
There were challenges aplenty. "She is naturally disinclined towards exercise. I have to push her hard. She has progressed well though," says Sumit. Vidushi admits lacking motivation to exercise when on her own or cheating on her schedule. "We have fought a lot about these things. But I know that he's a good teacher and strict when needed. After Suvir was born, thanks to Sumit's guidance, in five months' time, I was back to my normal weight," she reveals.
He says: Being fit has to become a lifestyle, and as parents it's the best thing you can give your kids.
She says: Every couple should work out together. It will help them understand each other better. He knows my limitations and ensures my workouts are fun.
*TwitterGetsFitter movement was started by user BombayBellyrina