In the world of high-intensity sports, relationship dynamics can be a bit more complex

By Klyde Manansala and Catherine Orda | Photo by freestocks.org/Unsplash 

Without a doubt, having an athletic spouse can make you better at your sport. Having someone to share your experience with can also make you work and train harder. To think that you’re not only growing as athletes but as a couple too makes it so much better.

While it sounds like the best kind of support system available to athletes, have you ever thought about the weight and amount of general upkeep this type of relationship requires? To answer that, we talked to some couples and asked them about what it’s like to be in a relationship with their sporty significant other.

Money Requires Commitment, Too

Kaye Lopez and Petr Lukosz

“Planning as far ahead as possible is key,” Lopez says. “If you have a steady source of income, you basically have an idea how much of it you can afford to spend on race expenses, then from there, map out your race calendar, buy promo fares if possible, rent a car, and decide if it’s better to stay in a hotel or Airbnb.”

As far as the passion to race is concerned, whether here or abroad, the couple believes that expenses shouldn’t be an obstacle to showing support.

“Splitting costs is fine if your income is more or less equal but if one is earning more than the other and the higher income one is willing to handle the bulk or even the entire expense, then that’s okay, too. Sometimes that works better because then it’s easier to just let the paying one decide so less time is wasted,” Lopez says.

Lopez also thinks that sometimes it’s much better to race when at least one of you is just watching and cheering. “It’s nice to do some races together but personally, I prefer that one races and the other supports. It’s hard to be as supportive if you also have your own race to think about.”

 But Support Is Invaluable

             Wowie and Joy Wong

For Joy and Wowie Wong, two impassioned athletes and fitness polymaths in their own right, engaging in sports and shouldering the costs (financially or otherwise) it entails never really proved to be serious hurdles. At least that came to be the case after the couple found ingenious ways to pursue and sustain their hobbies.

Among the many sports they engage in, scuba diving was something that they enjoyed “dearly” when they started diving back in 2002. And while it’s a sport that isn’t particularly lucrative, the two were able to maintain a two-decade scuba diving stint by making it more than just a hobby. “I learned to sustain my scuba stint by making it my primary business. So, the more I engage in it, the more I should be compensated for doing it. Isn’t that nice?” says Wowie, who left his job in the IT industry to work full-time as an underwater photographer and cinematographer for Studio H20.

“As time went by, we saw each other grow in one of the sports we used to both like. My passion was with scuba diving and was somewhat accelerated when I learned about underwater photography. Joy’s passion for biking grew deeper when she learned about triathlon,” says Wowie

Since they’ve been married, Joy and Wowie have taken up badminton, mountain hiking, mountain biking, and triathlons—but both of them slightly veered off this common fitness path that they’ve forged as each one settled into their own niche disciplines: Joy is an Ironman 70.3 finisher, while Wowie is a devout documenter of the sea.

“As time went by, we saw each other grow in one of the sports we used to both like. My passion was with scuba diving and was somewhat accelerated when I learned about underwater photography. Joy’s passion for biking grew deeper when she learned about triathlon,” says Wowie.

Joy agrees: “It’s not all the time that you would love to do the same thing. What’s important is to give encouragement to one another. Hobbies can be time consuming, and so, you need to stretch your understanding, patience, and support for one another.”

It’s almost a seamless dynamic, and it’s impressive for obvious reasons. But perhaps what is really inspiring about the Wongs is that they didn’t start out this way. When the two met in college, neither of them had, in Joy’s words, “fitness DNA” in their bodies. It was only when they started dating that the two became even remotely interested in fitness.

Communication Is Key

Patrick Joson and son Ino

As a triathlete, Patrick Joson is well aware that most of his days will be spent outdoors especially since he’s a triathlon coach. But the avid cyclist has instilled in his mind that family should always come first.

“The sport demands a significant investment so to be practical, train more and forego upgrades for the moment and race locally,” Joson says. “As of now, I race for my son and to show that health is key to good sustainable fitness,” he adds

“I would ask her [wife Maricis’] schedule then I build my race calendar from there. I do know that family comes first. Discussions are futile!” Joson jests. In a sport like triathlon, which demands a lot of investment in the sport itself and getting support and inspiration from people around you, communication is essential in making this kind of relationship work.

Even if he is a committed comeback athlete, Joson and his wife still find quality time during races by considering it as their break from everything. “Holidays are built around races or holidays are [turned into a] race-cation,” he says. “The sport demands a significant investment so to be practical, train more and forego upgrades for the moment and race locally,” Joson says. “As of now, I race for my son and to show that health is key to good sustainable fitness,” he adds.