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Have you ever spent time and money picking out what you thought would be the perfect gift for a loved one, only to have them seem a little . . . disappointed? Or even irritated?

You may have both been frustrated. How could they not appreciate the gift I gave them?, you might have thought. At the same time, they might have wondered, How could they assume that was something I’d want?

Or perhaps something like this occurred when you made Valentine’s Day plans. You thought you were being generous by booking your partner a massage, only to have them later express what they really were hoping for was a home-cooked meal and quality time together.

These disconnects between expectations likely have nothing to do with the intent, but rather the differences in how you and your partner give and receive love. Gary Chapman, PhD, refers to this phenomenon as “love languages.” The therapist and author of the best-selling book The 5 Love Languages identifies five categories of ways people prefer to experience love. The idea is that if you and your partner can learn and share your own love languages, then you can “speak” in a way that’ll provide greater connection and satisfaction.

Chapman outlines the five love languages as the following:

  1. Words of Affirmation: to be verbally given compliments and words of appreciation and encouragement.
  2. Quality Time: to be provided with someone’s undivided attention.
  3. Receiving Gifts: to be given tangible tokens of love; the thought behind it is more important than the monetary value.
  4. Acts of Service: to appreciate someone taking on tasks or chores.
  5. Physical Touch: to enjoy physical contact, with an emphasis on nonsexual touch.

(You can learn more about each of these here: “The Five Love Languages”)

Once you and your partner self-reflect on this or go through the discovery process (Chapman offers a quiz you can take), it’s about putting those learnings into practice. We asked Sierra Barker, membership concierge at Life Time in Edina, Minn., to offer some ideas for how couples can satisfy and strengthen their bond at Life Time, keeping the five love languages in mind.

(Note: The love languages don’t only apply to romantic relationships! This can be a useful tool for yourself, friends, family, and other relationships in your life, too.)

Words of Affirmation

  • Take a studio class. “Life Time’s performers are intentional about spreading words of affirmation throughout their classes,” says Barker. “For example, in every one of the AMP cycle classes, I find myself tearing up toward the end during the ‘dedication’ portion of the ride, where we’re intentionally riding for either ourselves or someone else in our lives. Christine Chapman, the performer whose class I attend, encourages everyone to finish strong, show up for the day, and find their purpose.”
  • Browse through the guided meditations available in your Life Time Digital app. Our instructors provide encouragement to carry you through each session — and whatever’s next in your day.
  • Practice yoga. “Yoga is another class option at Life Time that’s filled with positive words,” says Barker. “Performers empower you to be completely present with yourself and your breath. I’ve personally always found yoga to be the most rewarding practice because of the words spoken to me throughout each class.”
  • Recognize efforts. Did your partner hit a new PR? Did they complete one more rep than the last time they did the workout? Did they show up to move their body even though they didn’t feel like it? Tell them you’re proud of them!

Quality Time

  • Grab a drink or meal. “I enjoy spending time in the LifeCafe with friends,” says Barker. “Sometimes visits can be as quick and simple as grabbing a protein shake, and other times when we have a bigger appetite — usually right after an Alpha Strength class! — we stay for a full meal. It’s nice to share in nourishing our bodies with healthy foods.”
  • Play sports. Pickleball, basketball, tennis, racquetball, squash — these are all opportunities to be active together, whether you play one-on-one or as a team and challenge another duo to the game.
  • Add a signature group training class to your schedule. Choose from GTX, Alpha, or Ultra Fit and pick which class could fit into your calendars each week so you always have a sweat-session scheduled together.
  • Train for an athletic event. Enjoy running or cycling? Life Time offers 30-plus events nationwide each year. Go after a big goal and get in plenty of quality time by training for it together.

Receiving Gifts

  • Pamper them with a LifeSpa service. “I personally think a spa service is one of the best gifts to give,” says Barker. “Let your special someone pick out their preferred service by giving them a gift card or go the extra mile and schedule the service for them!”
  • Give a Dynamic Personal Training session. This fully engaged approach to training allows the recipient to work one-on-one with an expert to take their fitness experience — and results — to a whole new level.
  • Pick out something from the Health Store. A new workout outfit, a supply of foundational supplements, a tub of protein powder, fitness equipment, wearable technology, a cookbook set, or lab testing — there are plenty of healthy-living gifts to choose from. 

Acts of Service

  • Introduce them to something new. “For example, take a class they’ve never taken before together,” suggests Barker. “It’s one thing to recommend a class to someone but taking it with them for their first time is a service because it allows them to feel more comfortable. You can also support and encourage them throughout the workout.”
  • Teach a skill. Are you proficient in pickleball? A master of the fitness machines? The speediest swimmer? If there’s an activity your partner is interested in and wants to learn, give them a few pointers to get them started and boost their confidence.
  • Lend a helping hand. Pack their workout bag. Refill their water bottle mid-routine. Wipe down their machine after use. Return their free weights for them. Look for any opportunity you can to jump in on these more mundane tasks.
  • Help them find and enroll in a health program. If your partner has health goals but no desire or time to map out a plan, consider one of our nutrition or training programs. They all come with step-by-step guides and access to a coaching team for support. You could take it one step further by also ensuring their environment is set up for their new plan (e.g., the fridge is stocked with whole foods).

Physical Touch

  • Work with a Dynamic Personal Trainer. There are a few times during a session when you might have physical contact with your trainer (assuming you give permission for it, of course). These sessions can feature partner workouts, manual resistance and support, and physical cueing to help elevate your execution of movements.
  • Book a facial. This spa service is relaxing and can be customized to your skin type and concerns, whether you’re looking for detoxification, resurfacing, hydration, or a radiant glow.
  • Get a massage. This service may seem like an indulgence, but it’s actually a tool for improved function and well-being. Research cites pain relief, fewer headaches, lower blood pressure, deeper sleep, and alleviated anxiety as potential benefits of getting a massage.
  • Partner up for stretching or a workout. Working together provides valuable assistance and feedback. Try this partner stretching routine, this 8-minute partner workout, or this full-body partner strength circuit.
  • Schedule an adjustment. If your athletic country club has a LifeClinic, consider enlisting the care of a chiropractor to help support your body’s mobility and function and alleviate concerns such as headaches and migraines, lower back and neck pain, and stiffness.
  • Initiate more hugs — and high-fives. Greeting or saying goodbye to a friend or loved one as you enter or leave the club? Offer them a hug. Experience a great workout together? Celebrate with a high-five.
Callie Chase
Callie Fredrickson

Callie Fredrickson is a content editor at Life Time.

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