20 June, 2008

Working out together

Exercises that will get you and your partner healthy and fit, and also help you bond better

It’s a common observation that Indian women put on weight after getting married. Often, the weight gain results from a certain degree of complacence and carelessness towards one’s health and figure that sets in after marriage. What with the social pressure to be ‘in shape’ for the wedding not being there anymore, one can understand. Friends and family often, endearingly, attribute the weight gain to ‘love’.
However, what is good is this couple-workout plan which is a fantastic way for both of you to bond with each other as well as get healthy on the way.

With your hubby, or partner, along with you, there’s no need for extra gym equipment.
These exercises create a biomechanical system of movements that can duplicate any resistance exercise that can be done on a machine or with free weights. This integrated system of exercise does it all and much more. You and your partner will become each other’s coach. Who knows, maybe working out together may iron out the creases in your relationship and both of you rediscover each other. At this reassuring note, let’s start with the exercises.

Each stretch is to be held for minimum 10 seconds. Slowly you can progress for up to 2- 3 minutes. For toning up exercises, you can do up to 20 repetetions.

• Lie on your back, extending the right leg straight up at a 90-degree angle; flex the right foot.
• Bending the left leg, place the left foot flat on the floor. Press the lower back and chin down.
• Your partner stands to the right of your body, places his right hand on the back of your foot and the left hand just above the knee joint.
• With assistance from your partner, stretch the extended leg back toward your torso until you feel very slight discomfort. Be sure to keep the lower back on the floor.
• Contract the leg back, away from your torso against your partner’s isometric (non-movable) resistance.
• Release the contraction, but maintain the stretch. Exhale during the stretches and contractions.
• Work on both the legs. Then exchange places with your partner.
Benefit It will increase the flexibility of the hamstrings.
Caution Do not overstretch. People with lower back, hip, hamstring, calf injuries should avoid doing this stretch.

• Lie on your back, roll onto your shoulders and extend your legs overhead parallel to the floor. Keep the knees straight, feet flexed. Exhale during the stretch.
• The partner kneels behind you, placing his hands on your ankles. This is a great lower backstretch.
Benefit This a great lower-back stretch.
Caution Be careful not to place too much pressure on the back of your neck.

• Sit down on the floor, stretch the legs out.
• Bend the knees, separate the thighs, pulling them down towards the floor; place the soles of the feet together and clasp your feet with your hands.
• Your partner kneels behind, reaches over your shoulders and places his hands on the knees.
• With assistance from your partner, pull the knees down towards the floor.
• Then, contract the legs up against your partner’s hands.
• Release the contraction but maintain the stretch.
• Repeat the above steps few times and then exchange the places with your partner.
• Exhale during the stretches and contractions.

Benefit This is good for increasing the stretch of hips and inner thighs.
Caution Do not overstretch your partner. Listen to your body if you experience too much discomfort.

• Lie on your back. With the feet together, extend your legs up towards the ceiling.
• Separate your legs making a V with them.
• Your partner stands facing you, places his hands on your inner thighs.
• Stretch the legs towards the floor with pressure from your partner.
• Maintain that increased stretch position and contract against your partner’s stationary hands.
• Release the contraction but maintain stretch. Exhale during the stretches and contractions.
• Switch places with your partner.

Benefit This improves the flexibility of inner thighs muscles also known as the adductors.
Caution If you have had any hip or thigh injury, avoid doing this exercise. Also, the standing partner should be watchful of his back and should make sure not to overstretch his partner.

This is a fun exercise, many of you might have done this as small children.
• Both the partners stand back-to-back.
• Interlock your arms.
• Your partner bends and lifts you on his back, slowly.
• Keep your legs curled along the arch of your partner’s bent body.
• If you are in a good shape and your partner is not very heavy, repeat the move with you lifting him up.
Benefit This move strengthens the back of the standing partner. In addition, it also massages the spine of both the partners. Since the back of the partner on top is naturally arched, the pectorals get a good stretch.
Caution Do not do this move if either of you have back problems.

• Kneel down on your knees, your partner stands behind you.
• Raise your arms—bent at the elbows—up towards your partner.
• He places his hands on your wrists. Push your arms against the resistance provided by his hands. It should feel like you want to stretch out your arms but your partner is not letting you.
• Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Benefit This move conditions the shoulders and hands since both apply force and resistance.
Caution Keep your back straight to get maximum benefit from this exercise.

• Both partners sit on their haunches, facing each other.
• Reach out your hands, one on top of the other—like a cross—and hold each others hands.
• Stretch out your right leg on the side; keep your foot flexed (see the pic). Make sure that the bent knee is directly above the toe.
• Your partner does the same with his left leg. The balance will come from your core and from the support of your partner. In life too, as long as you hold hands together, you will lead a balanced life and will be able to deal with all problems.
Benefit This move helps you to stretch hamstrings.
Caution People with knee problems should avoid going into such a deep squat.

• Sit cross-legged on the floor, facing each other.
• Stretch out the left leg towards your partner, so that your foot touches his right knee.
• He too stretches out his left leg with his foot touching your right knee.
• Now, bend your torso forward slightly and reach out for his right knee with your left arm; rest your right hand on the inside of your left elbow.
• Your partner does the same.
• Stay in this pose for 10 seconds and then change the direction.
Benefit This is stretches the lower back and hamstrings.
Caution In case you have tight hamstrings or weak back, try not to overstretch the very first day. Aim at increasing your flexibility slowly. Also avoid any jerky movements.

9. This is another fun exercise that both of you will enjoy doing. You will require 2 resistance bands.
• Take a band and both of you hold an end each; wrap up the extra length around your hand, this will give you a good grip.
• Do the same with the other band. When you stretch them, the bands should be parallel to each other.
• Step back so that the bands stretch out.
• Stand with left foot placed ahead of the right, at an angle. Your partner, stands with his right foot placed ahead of the left one, at an angle.
• Raise your arms to shoulder level and bend back the right arm at elbow, so that you are stretching the band from your partner’s hand. Your partner does the same with his opposite arm. Now, repeat it with the opposite direction, just like you are churning an invisible pot of milk.
• Maintaining the resistance, alternate back and forth arm movements, coordinated with pivoting from the waist, side to side.
Benefit This exercise will strengthen the shoulders and tone your obliques—also known as love handles—because the twisting movement will be generated from the oblique muscles.
Caution Handle the resistance bands carefully. Make sure they are not torn and you have wrapped them around carefully. Do not jerk. Choose the resistance of the band according to your strength and try to stand neither too far nor too close to your partner.

This article written by Kiran Sawhney is also published on the following website:


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