Rosie Green: The day my boyfriend left me breathless

‘High knees, Green.’ The boyfriend and I are working out together and he is giving me a ‘helpful’ motivational chat. What he doesn’t know is that low-level running on the spot is testing my pelvic floor to its absolute limit and any more exertion will open the floodgates, so to speak.

A couple’s training session sounds like something newlyweds JLo and Ben Affleck might do. Only they’d do it much more photogenically – get a bit glowy and damp of tendril then emerge from some snazzy LA gym in matching athleisure wear.

They would then be papped sipping on his ’n’ hers smoothies that have been carefully blended with goji berries, moon dust and possibly blessed with crystals. We are less aesthetically pleasing.

My exercise gear is holey, stinky and far less flattering than JLo’s. I have leggings older than my teenagers and trainers so noxious they require a two-metre exclusion zone. I’m also without make-up and the benefits of a push-up bra.

It is not a look I care to be seen in, let alone by a (new-ish) beau, which is why I had previously avoided exercising with a romantic partner. But, as with many things in my life, I am embracing the new.

Rosie Green
Image: David Venni

He is, annoyingly, making big gains. In a matter of months a six-pack has emerged and the number on the scales is shifting downward.

His Instagram feed is full of inspirational men with abundant facial hair and biceps the size of melons proposing the benefits of eating insane amounts of meat. His fridge is full of protein drinks and chicken breasts.

Last week we went running together.

Now, let’s be clear, running is my thing, not his. In fact, he hasn’t run for years, so I was confident of my supremacy in this discipline.

He started off at a frankly unsustainable pace. I like a jog, a trot. In truth, I don’t like to exert myself, but I kept up with him. Just.

When he started questioning my heel-strike and giving me useful pointers on my arms, though, I was not overly gracious in my thanks. He suggested mixing up the run with sprints. Sprints! He gave me a head start and still passed me with ease, jogging back to me as his cool down. I assured him that over a long distance my endurance would prevail. I told him I was nursing murderous thoughts. But secretly I was enjoying it.

It was fun to exercise together and I liked that he was pushing me out of my comfort zone. It made me realise that I have been doing the same route at the same pace for years and that it’s good to be challenged.

To exact revenge – I mean, continue in our get-fitter project – I invited him to one of my HIIT classes. Jodie the instructor put him through his paces and corrected his form.

Joyously I noticed that, with his technique changed up, he perspired profusely. He made noises that can best be described as a water buffalo in labour. He didn’t want to lose face so he approached each exercise with enthusiasm levels akin to a toddler at Christmas, which was endearing. And I realised that this is good for our relationship.

In fact, according to research in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, working out with your partner increases mood during exercise, mood during the day and prompts higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

Plus it can make your partner fancy you more. Experts say the racing pulse and shortness of breath you experience in exercise mimic the signals of sexual arousal – and the brain conflates the two, ergo you feel more desirous.

Meanwhile, after the workout we got our body-fat measured with callipers. His was 12 per cent. Mine was 24 per cent. Apparently, he is an ‘athlete’. I am ‘good’. I am contesting the findings but, in the meantime, I still think working out is working out for us. As long as he doesn’t come within two metres of me while I’m taking off my trainers.


Read more of Rosie Green’s columns here