“It started very organic. People started seeing the way we were living our life and what we were posting on social media. It kind of snowballed from there,” said Deanna Mangum. Deanna, along with her husband Kurt, began their business, Coupleyfit, over five years ago to advocate for couples to feel better together through different approaches to health and wellness. Kurt’s Master’s degree in Sports Science and Deanna’s Certification in Nutrition and Wellness, as well as being a Transformational Specialist, lay the foundation for their ever-evolving business.
Coupleyfit began by training clients, hosting boot camps at the park, and eventually transitioning to a private gym. After several successful years, they decided to incorporate their own science-based approach to physical health known as S.W.A.N.—an acronym which stands for Sleep, Water, Activity, and Nutrition. This holistic approach breaks down sleep into hours, water into glasses, activity into minutes, and nutrition into meals.
Using this method as a template for physical health, Kurt and Deanna then introduced an application which sends a text message to a client’s phone to remind them to log each aspect of S.W.A.N. in addition to how they’re feeling on that day.
Green Living had the opportunity to connect exclusively with Kurt and Deanna via a phone interview—who were notably upbeat, laughing, and after only a few minutes into the call, opened up about what kind of obstacles lay ahead for couples working out together, how they can overcome them, and some easy breezy summer fitness tips that everyone can enjoy.
Green Living: So, let’s start off with, what kind of obstacles do you find couples face when they workout together?
Deanna Mangum: There are definitely quite a few when working out with your spouse. We’ve been working out together for about 7 years. Don’t get me wrong, for probably our first four years, it was a lot of figuring eachother out. We had to figure out how the other person deals with adversity in the gym, how somebody deals with uncomfortability around their body or body image in the gym, understanding what to do, what to say, when to leave somebody alone, learning those social cues, and communication. If you don’t naturally normally communicate outside of the gym, I personally feel like it becomes a little more difficult when you get inside the gym because now you’re dealing with two adversities. You’re trying to push yourself in ways that you may never have and if you don’t know how your partner works or their social cues you could possibly be doing or saying something that is discouraging.
GL: What tips do you have for couples who want to workout together?
Kurt Mangum: One of the biggest tips that immediately comes to mind for me is meeting your partner where they’re at. A lot of times, you have one partner who is really afraid of the gym and the other could feel like they really like it, they just need to get themselves there. Most people aren’t starting out in the same place. For us, we both have experience in the gym but that’s not always a plus because we both have our own way of working out. So there’s this tug and pull of “Well you are going to do my workout” and “No you are going to do my workout.” It’s important to count our joy that we’re in the gym together. I may be running and Deanna is on the stairmaster or elliptical. Meeting each other where we are in relation to what we enjoy doing in the gym is important. Start there, and just get into the gym together.
DM: Absolutely. To add to that, I think another tip for couples is look for the positives. Like Kurt said, you want to meet your partner where they are but then also because you want to see that person win, you want to see them do better, and feel comfortable in their own skin, being compassionate and giving them positive affirmations can go a long way. It can be a high five, a kiss on the cheek or a quick hug. It can be as simple as that and it just lets them know that you’re in this together. One of us may be frustrated but there is still that love there. Sometimes you may get in situations where that adversity hits and you may be arguing or doing different things. That compassion can go out the window and people start to wonder in the gym “Does my partner love me? I feel like they’re so mean to me in the gym.”
KM: Like “My partner left me at the squat rack.”
DM: We have done that. Clearly sometimes you need a minute and I need a minute so I’ll leave.
KM: Yes, and when we say that, we mean we leave the workout area.
DM: Yeah, not the gym.
KM: There have been many times where we meet in the locker rooms.
GL: How do you set realistic summer fitness goals?
KM: I think it’s important to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. You would be surprised how many people come to us saying things like “Oh my gosh, I’m going on vacation in two weeks and I want to lose 30 pounds.” To lose 30 pounds in two weeks is not only unhealthy, but I would be concerned. With so many people, it ends up being about the destination. Not where you’re going on vacation but where you want your body to be at. It becomes about that instead of the journey of creating healthier habits and maybe just losing five pounds this month.
DM: When it’s summer, everyone is trying to let loose and have fun. If you’re really trying to find that realistic summer goal, being S.M.A.R.T. is important. It’s the acronym for being specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. People need to realize that most people lose a few pounds per week. When people have that knowledge and education, it becomes easier to set goals of losing say eight pounds this month. Now, if you lose more, great, but if you lose less that’s okay because people generally lose anywhere between four to eight pounds per month. So it takes a lot of pressure off for people looking for these drastic changes. It’s really about creating small changes in each of these categories and not becoming overwhelmed with what you need to do after seeing everything on social media and online. It helps to stop comparing yourself to other people and focus on your journey and goals because other people aren’t you. You have different genetics, goals, and body type than somebody else.
KM: I’m from the midwest and I enjoy eating. You clean your plate before you leave the table is how I grew up. A lot of these fried foods were a part of the culture and the norm in my household growing up. When I think of realistic summer goals, I think of finding options that are alternatives to your favorite meals. She made a BBQ Tofu and Vegetable Bowl with pineapples instead of BBQ ribs the other night. It was an amazing BBQ dish that didn’t make me feel sickly later that night. Things like that, can make those healthier alternatives shift that mindset during the summer months.
DM: Yeah when you think summer, you think grilling and BBQ and so I’ll sometimes buy those Impossible Beef Burgers instead of regular burgers. Instead of Russet Potato Fries, we’ll have Sweet Potato fries. That’s a great point.
GL: What is your favorite item to cook with? Or just favorite meal to cook in general?
DM: Lately we’ve been looking at what are the foods that we go out and buy and then we make healthier versions of that at home. So for us, we really love Chick fil a, In and Out, Tacos, things like that. Taking your favorites and bringing them home and finding those healthier options.
KM: I’m a big snacker so I can eat Trail Mix by the pound. Deanna makes really amazing protein bites that have a lot of stuff like oatmeal and dates. Now I have something that is portion controlled and I can take maybe two or three out, get my fix, and eat some with some almond milk.
GL: Are there any workouts specific to summer that you recommend to people?
DM: Something I’ve really enjoyed incorporating is pool workouts. You can get noodles from the dollar store and do resistance training by pushing the noodle down into the water. Now, you’re working out your chest, your biceps, your whole arms. You can use the stairs in the pool to do step ups or lunges. Kurt and I, as former athletes, have definitely had our fair share of injuries and pool workouts are low impact. Plus, it’s nice to get out, stay cool and maybe get to chill by the pool afterwards if you have time.
KM: Another thing I’ve thought about is, since it’s so hot outside, we end up staying inside and watching T.V. or some people work from home. One thing you can implement is something like being active during commercials. Stand up and do twenty squats and feel the burn.
GL: Do you guys have any specific workout music that you guys have been listening to lately?
DM: Oh boy we could go on and on about music. Kurt and I are both believers so we listen to a lot of Christian Rap and Christian Hip Hop. For a specific song, I think one that always gets me going is literally called “Fire Emoji” by YB. Christian R&B and Christian Rap really ensures that we aren’t just staying in the word but that we’re continuously being uplifted. Every song we listen to has a positive message and we really understand the importance of your mindset. When you are feeling down you play your sad song list. For us, we really wanted to make a transition from listening to out right Hip Hop to listening to Christian Hip Hop. Do you have one Kurt?
KM: I think that one is a great one. It’s up tempo. Another one that I really like is by Zauntee and the song is called “God taught me.”
The duo is also launching a Coupleyfit Membership soon—which is a robust fitness membership that will include 20 minute workouts, nutrition classes on preparing meals, meal planning, and reading nutrition labels, as well as a relationship component that goes in depth on how to talk to a partner at the gym, and how to motivate one another while also staying motivated yourself.
For more information on Kurt and Deanna, as well as the Coupleyfit brand, visit www.coupleyfit.com.