Public relations executive Jamie Hess and her husband George are turning “date nights” into “date days.” Instead of eating out, they’re using their alone time to train for endurance races.
“One of the things that we realized early on is that there’s really no greater connector than making it through a workout like that together,” Hess tells NBC News BETTER. “You both kind of feel like you’ve made it through war. You don’t care what your hair looks like, you don’t care about all those superficial things. You have all these endorphins flowing through you.”
The New York City couple fell in love at Barry’s Bootcamp — their favorite gym — cheering each other on during workouts and stealing flirtatious glances in the mirror. They even had a weekend ritual of running together. But after they had their son in 2015, their running routine went on hold.
“When we found that we didn’t have the time to do it anymore, it was a real drag,” says Hess.
For busy couples, date nights offer much needed time together. But they can lead to unhealthy habits.
Between having a baby and her busy public relations job at the Narrative Group, Hess struggled to spend quality time with her husband. Eating out became their alone time.
“We would make a reservation at whatever the hot restaurant was and we would get all dressed up and every time we would go out for this meal,” says Hess.
But date nights added extra calories to their otherwise healthy diets and left them feeling guilty. That’s when the couple decided to hire a babysitter for Saturday mornings instead of Saturday nights, and turn the concept of “date night” on its head.
Being Active With Your Partner Can Make Your Relationship Stronger and Help You Get in Shape
The popular Instagram couple started using their daytime dates to train for endurance races again, including the New York City Marathon.
“We would sign up for a race together and we would have the babysitter come early and we would go do a race, which for us being outdoors in the sunshine early on a weekend morning is like the joy of our life,” says the 37-year-old. “And we would finish it high on endorphins, having completed something together and having that sense of accomplishment.”
Hess says date days helped her lose 10 pounds, though it was not intentional.
“By falling into this natural cadence of being able to just enjoy our outdoor time more and really just indulge in it, it just changed my body,” she says.
Date days have also made her bond with her husband stronger.
“Fitness is such a big part of our shared joy,” she says. “The most important thing, in my opinion, about finding a partner is they make you the best version of yourself. Because I can tell you, Lord knows, I have been with partners who have made me the worst version of myself. I truly have. And so George and I really, really contribute to each other’s best version.”
Planning Ahead Is Key
Couples who want to turn date nights into date days should work on planning their dates in advance, according to the Instagramer.
“Everything for us is about planning 100 percent,” says Hess. “We don’t leave anything to chance, like ‘Oh, maybe we’ll go take a run.’ If that’s the attitude, you’re not taking that run, I promise you.”
The couple map out their workouts about a month in advance on a calendar.
“So we have races we signed up for. We have the babysitter booked. If it’s a fitness class, we have that booked a couple weeks in advance and it’s all on the calendar. That’s the most important thing, especially if you have a young child,” concludes Hess.
How Redefining Date Night can Help You Get Healthy
- For busy couples, date nights offer much needed time together. But they can lead to unhealthy habits. Do you and your partner bond over food? While it may give you much needed alone time, it can also pack on unhealthy calories.
- Being active with your partner can make your relationship stronger. Participating in workouts and wellness activities together can create a stronger bond and help you both feel good and get in shape. You may lose a few extra pounds in the process.
- Planning ahead is essential. Don’t leave your “date days” to chance — plan them a few weeks in advance and put them on your calendar.