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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Column: A couple’s retreat

It’s the day of the year that evokes either cutesy doodles of hearts on notebook margins or just feelings of plain disgust. Or maybe something in the middle.

While most Valentine’s Day participants will eat one or more of the billions of chocolates sold in the U.S., others may engage in some non-chocolatey sweetness … The fitness and romance package, that is. Partner fitness classes are a new trend, quietly popping up around towns.

In Davis there are a handful of partner classes being offered today and this past weekend. Among the heart-studded restaurants and shops around town you might see an ad for “Partner Thai Massage” or “Partner Salsa.” Marketing wizards say dancing or any activity really is a fun and entertaining way to connect with your significant other while staying in shape.

Do these claims actually have value or are they just pretty in theory? How exactly do relationships strengthen by working out or going to a dance class together? I believe that simply showing up to a partner event is evidence enough that you value the relationship and are willing to do something that might be way out of your comfort zone. And maybe it’s that really awkward I-don’t-know-what’s-going-on feeling where relationships grow.

In more concrete terms, there is something about working out or dancing with someone close to you that brings new meaning to the activity (and you are more likely to stick to it!) Dr. Beverly Whipple at Rutgers University says that exercise releases endorphins that produce that “natural high” feeling and can make you feel more connected with the person you shared the high with. Also, energizing the metabolism through exercise, couples are more likely to encourage each other to eat healthy.

As an American, when I think of “fitness” in the most basic sense, I imagine a crowded gym, the sound of dumbbells clicking into place and Top-40 radio playing in the distant background — a mostly solitary activity. Whenever we as individuals have time to work out is when we go to the gym.

As all my columns have pointed out, fitness does not happen exclusively in the gym. Secondly, it sure does not happen alone.

One of my friends is really into salsa dancing and takes every opportunity to take her partner to classes and workshops. Her partner used to be so afraid of dancing and felt like her every step was a mistake. And no, she has not fallen in love with salsa … yet. But they do go to salsa classes together, make mistakes and smile about them.

The best partner activity out there is dance. Because it is not only movement and burning calories but it is the most rewarding skill. Those awesome moves you learn in class can be put to good use on the dance floor at your next big party. Or even just for fun.

“Dancing strengthens your bonds of love as well as your coordination and activity level,” according to the San Francisco Examiner.

Two people moving together in dance are constantly communicating about turns, direction and speed and have to be the least bit coordinated to make it look good.

And who says you have to be “Dancing with the Stars” status? Just knowing a couple of the basic moves can make salsa night all the more worthwhile.

Street salsa is gaining popularity in clubs, parties, restaurants and classes everywhere. Think about it this way: going to a salsa class or salsa night with your friend or sweetheart will probably burn calories equivalent to three heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.

If you’re more interested in building the mind-body connection between you and your friend or lover, maybe yoga is your preferred activity. Kaya Yoga studio hosted a “Yoga for Friends or Lovers” event Sunday in Davis. The three instructors guided a “joyful sequence of shared asana (poses).”

Doing things like back-to-back triangle pose or a heart-shaped backbend (where each person is half of the heart) could be really cool. I mean, having another person means there is someone to spot you and make the pose come alive.

And of course the list of partner fitness activities for Valentine’s Day is open to your wild imagination and not limited to hiking, biking, dancing, yoga, kayaking, training for an event or marathon or even something as simple as walking.

So no matter your outlook on Valentine’s Day, do your body some good. Grab a partner and your gym shoes!

MEGHA BHATT would rather be celebrating La Fete du Baiser in France! Reach her at mybhatt@ucdavis.edu.??


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