Fitness For Couples

Exercising with a partner can be a great source of motivation and a lot of fun.

Health magazine's Petra Kolber has designed a workout routine especially for couples that she says is guaranteed to strengthen bodies - and relationships.

Kolber and personal trainer Shawn Murphy stopped by The Saturday Early Show to demonstrate several exercise moves for couples and explain the benefits of exercising with another person.

Kolber says when it comes to exercise, we could all use a little extra encouragement and working out with a partner can be a great way to stay motivated. She says it keeps the mind from becoming tired or bored, and challenges us to do our best. Also, shared exercise is a great way to spend time with a loved one.

Kolber and Murphy demonstrated exercise moves on The Saturday Early Show that are for toning, not cardio.

For some of the moves, couples simply use their partner's body as resistance. Others call for rubber tubing. The tubing is inexpensive (each piece costs about $8.50) and can be purchased at most sporting good stores. The tubing comes in three different resistance levels: light, medium and strong.

Kolber assures that any two people can do the moves together -- it doesn't matter if one person is stronger than the other. In order to make the exercises more difficult, use a piece of tubing with more resistance, or shorten the length of tubing used.

Couples can try the following exercise moves for toning:

Partner Squats

This exercise does not require any tubing. Partners face each other and clasp each other's forearms. This allows each partner to put more weight onto their heels and use their partner to help with balance. Slowly sit back into a squat. Return to beginning position and repeat. The exercise will tone glutes and hamstrings.

Partners should cycle through all of these moves quickly with no down time. This is called "active rest." Your body is constantly working, but you alternate the muscles that are targeted so they don't become fatigued. The partners should do two sets of 8 to 12 reps (repeats). More sets can be done as a person gets stronger.

Seated Stretch

Partners should face each other with legs extended and the soles of their feet touching. Each person holds one end of a piece of tubing. Then they should walk their hands forward until they feel a slight stretch in the back of their legs. The partners should hold for 3 to 5 deep breaths and return to starting position. This exercise stretches hamstrings and back.

Kolber says it's important to stretch and strengthen the back. The first place most people feel stress is in the lower back, and sitting for long periods of time (as most of us do at work) puts lots of stress on the back.

Tubing Lunges

One partner places tubing around the midsection, hitting at the hips. The other partner stands behind, holding both ends of tubing. As the front partner lunges forward, the back partner draws his own hands to his hips. In this exercise, the front partner is working the lower legs and improving balance. The back partner is working the back and improving stability.

Kolber particularly likes the way this exercise trains the back. It imitates the acts of pushing and pulling, just as people would perform these moves in everyday lives. She believes it is important to strengthen the muscles that we use in daily activities.

Chest Press

One partner stands behind the other and holds the tubing at shoulder height. The partner in front does a chest press with the tubing while the back partner remains still.

Just because the back partner is not moving doesn't mean he's not exercising. This move works muscles in that partner's mid-back.