How to Date and Work Out at the Same Time.
Valentine’s Day! That gleaming occasion in February that has greater expectations, harder times, and bleaker houses than Charles Dickens. I’m trying to think of a time of the year where more sour comingles with sweet, and I’ve decided that not even Chinese New Year comes close. Really, if you’re not spending February 14th keenly aware that you’re alone, you’re likely feeling miffed about the generic gift you received, guilty for eating too much chocolate, or hangry about the three hour wait for date night dinner. Honestly, some of us just miss the good old days of sifting through paper Valentines from classmates to see if our secret crush chose the Space Jam love note with a surprising amount of sexual tension for cartoon bunnies or the disappointing “You’re a cool teammate!” one featuring the Tasmanian Devil shooting a basketball (Friend Zone, circa 1996.) I would personally rather have my eyebrows threaded by tarantulas than relive all of the bad Valentine’s Day experiences I have had, but with this being a new year and a new day, I’ll tell you that there is reason to take heart.
Yes, there’s reason to be more optimistic about Valentine’s Day, dating, relationships, and the courtship process in general. And, like most other shifts to positivity, lower stress, and a better outlook that happen in my world, this is because of fitness. Today, more than ever, the realm of fitness and physical activity isn’t merely a preparatory path to the dating world, it IS the dating world. In other words, girls and guys aren’t exercising to become datable; they’re heading to the gym on actual dates. Outside of the gym, activities like rock climbing, hiking, running, and yoga-going are all similarly frequented by courting couples and I couldn’t be more supportive. Exercising on a date or to find a date works because it provides an environment where conversation flows naturally (let’s talk about this gorgeous view instead of watching a movie in a silent theater), hotness is maximized (yes, I will relish the opportunity to show up in spandex and see your shoulder muscles in action), and awkward silences or “dead” moments are at a minimum (more tabata, less trouble attempting to fill the gaps.)
If the paths to fitness and to love are actually part of the same road, it’s necessary to have some sort of a guide to navigate the journey. Might I suggest 5 essential tips for steering your way towards your healthiest and happiest heart yet?
FIT TO BE LOVED: THE RULES.
COME READY. Whether you’re hoping to catch someone’s eye after yoga or meeting up with a love interest for a run, look well. Wear clean, freshly-laundered clothes appropriate for the activity at hand, bring water to keep hydrated, and put a little effort into your look. This means ditching your lucky Nike Shox from 2005, replacing your oversized family reunion tee with something lighter and more sveldt, and maybe even trying to match your socks.
DON’T OVERDO IT. Yes, come ready, but avoid looking “done up.” Ladies: lip balm and a ponytail always win over caked mascara and harsh eyebrows. Guys: don’t man-bun unless you really have to. Also, there’s no need to match your headband to your tank top to your shoes to your wristband to your water bottle. There’s really no need.
WATCH FOR CUES. If you’re hoping to meet someone to date while you’re exercising, keep in mind that the interest in striking up a conversation may not be reciprocated. Interrupting someone’s workout to ask for their number has potential to result in annoyance, judgement, and at the very least a flat “no thanks,” so protect yourself by carefully evaluating the conditions. Is your target using headphones, already working out with a partner, drenched in sweat and red in the face, or looking completely absorbed in his or her experience? It may be best to hope for a chance encounter another time. But, if eye contact is made, there’s an air of friendliness, and you can casually say hello as you both make your way to the drinking fountain, by all means proceed.
LEND A HAND. Working out with someone you’re interested in can be a great chance to lend encourage and support, but don’t be creepy. In other words, offering to spot your new friend at the gym doesn’t mean you’re free to get thoroughly handsy with someone you barely know. Also, while toughness can be a turn-on, I recommend not barking at your date or calling out phrases like “you’re a beast!” and “suck it up!” during your reps. That usually doesn’t go over well.
- UM, WORK OUT. This sounds obvious, but I can’t think of anything more offputting than the girl or guy at the gym who is not working out at all and probably never has. Really, you’re there to get a sweat in and move your body. Sauntering through the sections of weights you have no idea how to use or hovering outside of the ladies’ locker room to seize on some fresh meat is a definite DON’T.