Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Power Couples; Fitness Grab Your BFF the Capital's Hardest Workouts Are Done in Pairs. Friendly Rivalry Makes Two the Magic Number, Says Katie Strick

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Power Couples; Fitness Grab Your BFF the Capital's Hardest Workouts Are Done in Pairs. Friendly Rivalry Makes Two the Magic Number, Says Katie Strick

Article excerpt

I'M SQUATTING against a mirror pulling hand weights while my friend does tricep dips from my knees. Across the room, a married couple lunge with a medicine ball. "Couples, swap!" calls our instructor, and we move on to the yoga mats to attempt wheelbarrow push-ups.

My (poor) friend and I are sweating through a Whipped class at Equinox: a circuit-training class centred around weighted ropes, and one of the gym's two-paired classes. This year, off the back of the success of Whipped, Equinox launched Pure Strength, a 45-minute weight-lifting workout designed for 12 pairs, in which your partner acts as a spotter and checks your form. They're two distinct classes but both work on the principle that working out in a pair provides a companion and a little rivalry: and the cocktail of both will make you work harder.

"There's nothing like a little healthy competition between friends to help you both unleash your greatest potential on the gym floor," agrees Alex Shepherd, manager at Equinox gym in Kensington. "The importance of form and technique while working out is vital," he says. Your partner acts as your built-in spotter and formchecker.

"The harder you push, the harder it will be for your partner," explains Hugo Diez, the trainer leading our class. "So it depends how happy or sad you are today and how much you want to have a real workout." Though some activities are harder and less combative than others: in the "yin and yang" movement couples lie on their backs and kick their legs in the air to opposite sides, while in others you are encouraged to high-five after each sit-up.

The social element of pairing is a big driver, Diez explains. "Friends definitely push each other harder and have more fun than if they've only just met," he says. "We get boyfriends and girlfriends and boyfriends and boyfriends. They already know each other, so they come from home with all that friendly fight." A lot of friends even become couples at his classes, he explains. …

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