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Power Coupled: How Melvin Cayas & Mary Grace Castro Lift Each Other Up in The Gym

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Power Coupled is a new her sweat. series that shines a spotlight on significant others who not only go hard in the gym solo but get their sweat on together. Meet Mary Grace Castro, a med school student, and Melvin Cayas, an engineer, who began their fitness journey together after a Color Run 5K race in 2013. Three-plus years later, the New York-based baes have not only found a passion for deadlifting but boosting each other’s confidence. 

What made you initially decide to work out together? 

Melvin: The first time we worked out together was back in May 2013. We went for a run in Central Park to prepare for the Color Run 5K 2013, which our mutual friends had convinced us to join. I was totally not into working out at the time and was basically sitting at a desk all day for work. Needless to say I was quite hesitant to sign up for the 5K run. Mary Grace was my coach for that first run—our very first workout—and the goal for the session was to run for 30 minutes with at least 10 minutes of no stopping. I could barely keep up with her! I remember wishing she would slow down and give me a break.

Mary Grace: I had been bugging Melvin for months before he finally agreed to work out with me! I thought he would never want to run/exercise again after our run in Central Park. However, he eventually started his own fitness journey without any pressure from me. He learned for himself what he enjoyed and what motivated him.

5k race 🐧🏃🏃

A photo posted by mary grace 🐯 (@mgzy_) on

Were there any hesitations in the beginning? How did you overcome the insecurities?

Melvin: Mary Grace has always been active, which can already be quite intimidating to any regular guy. At the time of our first workout, we were only a few months into our relationship so I was actually pretty nervous because she would see how out of shape I was. Eventually I just went along with the flow because I figured she was dating me for a reason, right? I realized she would still accept me regardless of how quickly out of breath I got. 

Mary Grace: Since high school, fitness has been an important part of my life. I love trying out different workouts – running, yoga, strength training, etc. Therefore, I’ve never felt insecure about working out with Melvin; my biggest concern was that he wouldn’t enjoy working out. I didn’t expect him to exercise every day but I was hoping he would lead a more active lifestyle.

What is your current favorite workout to do together? 

Melvin: DEADLIFTING. PERIOD. There is absolutely no greater adrenaline rush than completely ripping heavy dead weight off of the floor with your very own strength. The feeling is exhilarating and cannot be recreated with anything else. There are many misconceptions out there that have people believing that deadlifts are bad for your lower back. This is completely untrue. Deadlifts do not hurt your lower back; improper form hurts your lower back! The deadlift is one of the very few exercises that work your entire body. It primarily targets your hamstrings, glutes, lower back and core, but the movement also uses the rest of your body’s muscles as stabilizers to hold the weight throughout the full range of motion. Mary Grace used to be afraid to do deadlifts but she fell in love with the movement ever since she learned how to do it, and she looks forward to doing them every week.

How often do you work out together each week? Individually?

Mary Grace: Individually, we train about five days a week and we try to hit the gym together on at least one of those days. When my school semester is in session, we probably go to the gym together once every two to three weeks due to my unpredictable study schedule. On days that we don’t go together, we still keep each other accountable by giving each other updates of what we did in the gym and if we hit any PRs (personal records) during the session by sending each other videos of some of our lifts.

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