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Push, Moan, Sweat—Musings on Fitness and Sex

Does your workout ethic mirror your style as a lover?

Someone asked me whether it's tiring to think about sex constantly, given that I'm a sexuality educator. I don't try to think about it constantly, but the topic does crop up at unpredictable times. Like dinner parties, when someone whispers a question. And on a train, when a seatmate asks what I do for a living and then proceeds to describe a problem they are having. Or at the gym, where I sometimes ponder whether one's workout style might reflect one's style as a lover.

Over a year ago, I joined a new gym and starting working out four to five days a week. I take a range of classes in which the student genders are mixed, as are their ages, sizes, and fitness levels. There are several types of classes, all of which result in students breathing heavily, sweating, encouraging each other, changing direction, transitioning from slower to faster movements, straining muscles, and needing recovery time afterward. Sound familiar? You bet: it's akin to what can happen during a vigorous and creative sex session.

Based on some of the behaviors I've observed at this gym and others I've belonged to, I offer the following tips for more companionable workouts and, perhaps, better sexual interludes:

Avoid encrouching on someone's space, especially when empty slots abound elsewhere in the gym. When possible, select a spot that gives your neighbor full freedom of movement. Pro tip: Respect your partner's boundaries for physical space, in and out of bed.

Observe your impact on the people around you. In a crowded room, you can insist on completing your movements as instructed, or, you can adjust your rhythm so that your movements and your neighbor's movements alternate. Pro tip: Try to anticipate and respond to each other's needs.

Follow directions for form during each exercise, rather than plowing ahead at top speed to outpace the person next to you. Pro tip: Set a lovemaking pace and technique that focuses on your own and your partner's pleasure.

Move with grace, rather than with herky-jerky movements. Pro tip: Dancers are sexy because they can sensually connect one activity to the next; good lovers do the same.

Protect yourself. Your coach can't recall every nuance of every student's health history, so you need to protect yourself by following instructions. Pro tip: Before you have sex, protect your own and your partner's (s) health by discussing each other's status regarding sexually transmitted infections and whether contraception is needed to prevent pregnancy.

Clean yourself up. Don't go to class wearing clothes that reek of old sweat. Pro tip: The pheremones that may help people feel attracted to each other are delicate and easily covered by other body odors. Cop a shower before you try to attract a partner.

Clean up the shared space. Don't leave puddles of sweat on the mat to air dry—grab a towel and wipe down the mat. Pro tip: Don't leave your sex partner in a puddle unless you've both agreed that's a desireable end result. Offer soft tissues, a towel, and/or a shower.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to share your suggestions.

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