Rosie Green: My relationship mantra – if he’s fit, we fit

Last week I found myself wondering if I could keep up with my boyfriend. Not mentally or sexually – but physically.

This came about because, after a rather indulgent overnight stay in London with plenty of drinking and dining, he suggested walking the three miles across the city to get our train home.

Always one to rise to a challenge, I agreed. But it was warm, we were hungover and my footwear was not entirely appropriate. We set off at a perspiration-inducing pace. And even though he gallantly wheeled his suitcase in one hand and carried my bag in the other, while I held the coats, I was still flagging at around the two-mile mark.

Image: David Venni

As I puffed along in silence (speaking was not possible) it made me think about fitness compatibility.

Is having the same attitude towards exercise necessary to the success of a relationship? Ditto having similar fitness levels? If I was unable to keep up would that be a source of frustration to him?

Or if he was a step-shy sofa-lover who parked his car as near as possible to the supermarket doors so as to minimise any physical exertion, would that be a turn-off for me? The answer, I think, is yes.

I’m not sure I’d find a sleep-in-till-midday exercise-avoidant attractive. Because not only are there the superficial benefits of taut thighs and T-shirt-filling biceps that come from dating a fitness lover, there’s also the fact they show what kind of person they are.

To me, if someone is into sport it means they have motivation, discipline and self-regard. Plus it’s about shared values. I love getting outside, trying new things, feeling that satisfying muscle ache you get after a workout.

The boyfriend is similarly motivated but, thankfully, isn’t obsessed. He’s not regaling me with personal bests 24/7 (as happened a lot in my dating era) or running around with a head torch in the dark to get his miles in.

He loves a walk, which is, in fact, extremely important because I do, too. Anyone who comes to visit my house knows that after initial pleasantries they will be summarily ejected and made to stroll in the fresh air. The irony that I was forced to do this as a teenager and now do the same to my own children is not lost on me.

Though sharing a love of fitness is a boon in my new relationship, it was sometimes problematic in my marriage. My ex-husband was seriously into his exercise. He would rise at 5am to go to the gym. Good for him. But when both of you are working, have young children and there is not enough time to charge your toothbrush, going to the gym becomes a source of friction. So resentments built, mainly on my side. Why was I puréeing carrots and wiping bottoms while he got to go to a spin class?

I remember that era so well, when exercise becomes so many new parents’ escape from the domestic grind.

I’ve lost count of the donation requests for friends’ endurance events that involve hours and hours of training and a trip to a far-flung destination. It’s an extreme way of getting out of bathtime.

Luckily in my relationship 2.0 there are no shared children, thus no pressure. He can go to the gym and play golf when he wants to and I can run and do yoga.

The boyfriend and I are planning a holiday and if the hotel has a pool/tennis court/scuba diving school, then you can be sure we’ll both be signed up to them all.

And the good news is that studies show these experiences bond a couple – you feel more in love and more satisfied in your relationship after doing a physical activity together.

Anyone for a walk?


Read more of Rosie Green’s columns here