Exercises in Love

Hearts pounding with exertion and affection, these couples find that fitness attracts

Health & Fitness

February 08, 2004|By Tom Dunkel | Tom Dunkel,Sun Staff

So, are you in good enough shape to handle Valentine's Day?

According to Datingmatchmakers.com, the average person expends one calorie per minute kissing. Making whoopee reportedly burns another 100 calories. Add a few sets of curls with a five-pound box of chocolates and -- whew! -- romance becomes an anaerobic-threshold experience.

For some people. For others, love and exercise go hand in hand year-round. Occasionally, that hardbody-and-soul rocket will lift a relationship off the ground right from the get-go, propelling two humans into emotional deep space.

FOR THE RECORD - Dick Huffman's name is misspelled in a fitness profile in today's Home & Family section.

He first noticed the way her ponytail bobs when she sprints uphill, light-footed as a fawn. She couldn't take her eyes off that hunk who wiped down the Cybex machine after finishing his leg extensions. In no time, they were finishing each other's sentences and PowerBars.

Let's drink a pre-Valentine's Day toast (Gatorade and vodka?) to the prospect of being both happy and healthy. Here's to the few, the proud, the fit and fulfilled.

Call 'em sweatbirds in love.

Lisa & Jimi Carey: Two hearts in training

They got their love directions backward: The way to Jimi Carey's heart runs through her stomach.

The first date, in March 1994, was a jog around Centennial Park in Ellicott City. Lisa Wiegmann fell for his blue Spandex shorts and "great calves." Jimi was impressed when they had lunch afterward.

"I was just amazed the woman can eat so much," recalls Jimi, whose first wife was a picky vegetarian. He got so carried away he gave Lisa a goodbye kiss.

She slapped him.

They'd met six months earlier at Columbia Athletic Club. Jimi, an inventory manager for a medical supply company, moonlights as a personal trainer. Lisa was a club member.

Jimi's initial reaction was, "gosh, she's beautiful." His second thought was that she had an ugly workout routine: bad form on her upright rows, always doing the same few exercises over and over. He offered Lisa pointers.

Things went uphill quickly after that first-date slap. By August, Jimi had moved in with Lisa and her two children from a youthful marriage. Three years later, they both felt ready to wed again.

Lisa, 39, grew up on the Eastern Shore. Her father raised horses and taught her how to play volleyball and softball. "I was a tomboy," she says.

Jimi, 41, was an overseas Army brat.

In high school he excelled in football and basketball, and later played 14 years with the Munich Cowboys semi-pro football team.

He married a Cowboys cheerleader but, after their relationship fizzled, he headed to Maryland to live near his sister.

Lisa was a day-care worker when they met, but Jimi encouraged her to turn her love of exercise into a vocation.

She got certified as a trainer, then later added a degree from Baltimore School of Massage.

"I'm in better shape now," says Lisa, "than I was at 24."

That created some awkward ripple effects. "Watching the woman you love blossom, I felt threatened by that," Jimi says. "I was a little jealous."

For nearly two years he stopped training. Gradually, Jimi worked through that funk and dropped the 45 pounds he accumulated. He also resumed personal training, at Quest Fitness in Ellicott City.

Last spring, Jimi felt rejuvenated enough to play semi-pro football again. He's a defensive back with the Arbutus Big Red.

Being a 40-something football player doesn't strike him as odd. It's his wife who's over-the-edge, he says. Lisa plays volleyball twice a week and is on three indoor soccer teams.

"She out of control with her sports," says Jimi. "She can't sit still."

Working it out Choose your own weapon

Lisa Carey does everything from yoga to light weights to balance balls: "I'm not into the body-building routine," she says.

Jimi Carey favors intense, 45-minute workouts that feature "super sets" of weight-lifting. He's admittedly Old School compared with his wife. "I introduced her to personal training," he says, "and she took it to another level."

Donna & Jack Stuff:

There's no spiking this romance

The Volleyball House in Elkridge has all the ambience of an airplane hangar, but reminds Judy DeJong, president of the small corporation that operates the six-court complex, of the Cheers bar: "We have people who've been dropping in for 10 years."

Everybody at Volleyball House knows your name, not to mention how hard you serve and whether you have knobby knees.

Donna Brown and Jack Stuff met in the summer of 1991 when Columbia Ski Club organized a few off-season volleyball teams. Jack was a solid, all-round player; Donna a good setter. They clicked as teammates.

"Jack and I were both people who wanted to improve in the game," says Donna. "We developed our friendship first through volleyball."

It took Jack, now 43 and a civilian chemist at Aberdeen Proving Ground, six months to screw up the courage to ask Donna out to eat after a co-ed league game. A few months later, he made dinner for her: chicken divan.

"Chicken, broccoli and cheese sauce," says Jack. "You can't go wrong."

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