Written by Ashley Dier | Academy Of Lions Media Team | Toronto 

Sweat is powerful, we know this. Every sweaty opportunity allows us to build, strengthen and re-invent ourselves in any way we desire. We’ve seen the stats and read the reports, working out with a partner has numerous benefits, many reaching far beyond the walls of the gym. I rediscovered the power of sweat while in the mountains with 16 other women and strengthened bonds like I never could have imagined. In the final installment of Sweat Together Stay Together, two Academy Of Lions couples share their story, describe their bonds and really just reiterate the power of a healthy relationship, the power of a couple who sweats together.

Lauren and Jason

Describe your involvement with the Academy Of Lions?
Jason and I have been members of the Academy for a little over 3 years now. Jay can usually be found making something extremely difficult look easy, and you can generally find me laughing when I’m supposed to be working out or dancing between lifts.

Why did you both join?
We joined together while training for a Tough Mudder. We were sent this way by our friends Brian and Rizie who were members at the time. We came to a free intro class and were hooked!

Would you typically describe yourselves as athletic?
Absolutely not. Jay did excel at smoking and drinking, however. He just happens to be naturally very athletic and picks up on everything annoyingly well and rage inducingly fast. I spent the better part of my (chubby) childhood studying violin and voice quite seriously and whenever you hear me reference “camp” from when I was a kid, I am referring not to a super fun place where I played outside and learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, but to Interlochen Fine Arts Camp. I had to audition to go there. Such a nerd.

Do you find working out together helps or hinders your relationship?
Working out together has given us a way to support each other on a different level than we had ever experienced before. To celebrate alongside your partner as they hit a goal you have watched them strive for, and sweat for and fail at for sometimes months on end is an incredible opportunity. To be a part of the journey that got them to that goal is unlike anything else.

Do you ever find yourselves getting competitive with one another?
During our very first Lions League, when we were on opposing teams and positioned on neighboring platforms, I may or may have not have trashed talked him all day long. And I definitely may have walked over his platform to chalk my hands, bumping into him on my way and then simply up nodding him, because I am very mature. It is both an advantage and a disadvantage that our strengths lie in completely different areas at the gym. Jay excels at anything gymnastics, where as I would rather be moving a barbell around. It helps keep the competitiveness at bay (most of the time). It can also be frustrating to watch your partner excel in areas where you see yourself struggle. I think we strike a good balance of supporting each other and being moderately jealous!

Most memorable academy story?   
For Jay, it was the Lions League where we competed on the same team. When asked why, he said “it’s nice to see your partner push themselves.”
For me, it has to be the day that we started telling people that I was pregnant and Freya lunged at me, mauling me like a bear. That was great.

Favourite thing about coming to the gym with your partner?
It sounds cheesy, but we just like to be around each other. Hopelessly codependent!

Describe your goals?                                                                                                                                                                                                         I am currently 7 months pregnant, so our immediate goal is to get through that! Haha. After that, Jay would like to change the perception of a “dad bod”. After coming back from having the baby, I would like to continue chasing my 200b back squat. I’m so close!
As a couple, we would like to raise our child to have the active healthy childhood that neither of us really had. We want to be role models in a sense that he will be able to look up to us and say that his parents are not quitters, are strong and chase after the things that they want.

How will your involvement at the Academy help you both achieve your goals?
The Academy has given us the tools to push ourselves harder than we think we are capable of being pushed. It has given us a place to feel proud.

Any crazy Academy stories?
Way back when we first started coming to the Academy, Jay and I partnered up for a workout that involved at some point partner 1 holding a plank while partner 2 completed a set amount of double unders. Jay and I are both famously bad at double unders. During the course of this workout, I became so tired of holding my plank while he worked his way through failed attempts that at one point I threatened to murder him and set fire to his corpse. Jay doesn’t find this story nearly as funny as I do! I meant it with love!

Melanie and Phil

Describe your involvement with the Academy Of Lions?
We're both involved with the "Black Lions" team at the Academy. That includes team trainings with the other L5+'s three times a week, as well as regular CrossFit and Metcon classes the rest of the time.

Have you both always been athletic?
Yes - Phil was an amazing hockey player growing up, and got more involved with lifting in University. (Where he got quite good at it too, I might add). I was a competitive gymnast for most of my life. Both hockey and gymnastics were quite good "starter sports" for Crossfit!

Does working out together help or hinder your relationship?
Physical activity has definitely been a big part of our relationship, and it will continue to be. We've typically always worked out together - and personally, I love it. Committing to working out with someone else brings an extra bit of motivation to the table. Yes, you'd like to get stronger and fitter as an individual, but there is some healthy competition that sneaks up, and I think that's fun.

Also - when we're both sore together from the same crazy workout - it's more fun to be lazy together too!

Do you find you ever get competitive with one another while at the gym?
To a degree, yes. Phil will beat me in 98% of the Crossfit workouts we do, but I can sometimes surprise him. We also know where each other sits in terms of competition with ourselves, so it brings an extra edge of accountability as well.
hat our 5th anniversary fell on the Saturday before one of the Sunday Open workouts.

Favourite thing about coming to the gym with your partner?
We both work a lot, and don't have a ton of free time. Going to the gym is almost a "date night" for us, and I know that seems pretty cheesy. But - we have a 20-minute drive to and from the gym together, a big warmup, and a 1.5 hour session together multiple times a week. From Monday to Friday, we're probably together at the gym for more hours than any other place.

Plus - just watching Phil workout is incredibly motivating for me, but I have a huge bias. :)

How will your involvement at the Academy help you both achieve your goals?
Honestly, we have more friends at the gym than anywhere else, and as generic as it may sound, we're there for the community. We love this place, and we want to be there - and that's the only thing you can ask for. To get fitter and stronger requires a huge commitment, and a general "I want to go to the gym" attitude. We have this at the Academy, and it's pretty special.

How would you describe your relationship?
We've just always gravitated towards one another. We started dating 5 years ago, and every year we make "time capsules" to open up at some point in the future. We fill these little boxes with memories from the past year, items that were significant to us, photos, etc. On March 5th, we actually got to open up the first box that we had made back in 2012 (From Year #1 of dating), and a little note with "will you marry me?" was hiding at the bottom. Turns out I'd had my proposal sitting on my shelf in a sealed box for four years.

We have an incredible connection, and we've always known that "this is it". <3

How does your story connect to the Academy?
The academy gives us the perfect place to grow together, sweat together, and become better athletes, friends, colleagues, and people in general. When we look back at this point in our lives, the Academy will be a significant component.