Think you'll need lipstick for your next date? Try running shoes, thanks to "fating," the 2023 dating trend invigorating athletes and scaring everyone else.
Let's say you're swiping on the best dating apps and looking for a fun activity with a potential suitor. Rather than opt for the typical dinner-and-drinks route, fating—a.k.a. fitness dating—allows you to try something a little unexpected. Bouldering? Kickboxing? A run in the park? Fating can include whatever your heart desires and gets it racing, literally.
"Setting healthy habits is a plus in almost any relationship. Whether you are on the first date or the 20th, a fun workout topped off with a healthy post-workout picnic, smoothie or custom-made meal prep is a great way to kick off the new year and step outside of your comfort zone," says Centr trainer Ingrid Clay.
Ingrid Clay is a trainer at Centr who "leads the platform’s content in sculpting bodies and minds by coaching users through high-intensity workouts, utilizing both bodyweight and dumbbells." She is also a trained plant-based chef and author of The Science of HIIT.
If you were weighing the options between Pinot and Cabernet instead of yoga vs. pilates, don't sweat it. (You'll do plenty of that on your date!) Relationship and fitness experts alike think an active date is one worth trying. (We promise you don't have to do it again if you're miserable.)
What are the benefits of fating?
Good thing you have the best reusable water bottles—you'll need a little hydration. But the pros insist breaking a sweat and getting to know a potential S.O. actually makes sense. Here are just a few benefits of fating.
1. Fating releases endorphins
Remember Elle Woods' whole spiel on exercise and endorphins? "Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't shoot their husbands. They just don't."
Minus the whole shooting-your-husband plot line, Elle was onto something with her endorphins approval.
"When we exercise or do anything fitness-related, our endorphins get elevated, and our 'feel-good' neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and the 'love and bonding chemical,' oxytocin all rise, resulting in a better chance for a love connection," says Jaime Bronstein, licensed therapist and author of "MAN*ifesting: A Step-By-Step Guide to Attracting the Love That's Meant for You."
That's right—you can definitely form some type of bond in between cycling sessions, so, as Bronstein says, "don't knock it 'til you try it."
Jaime Bronstein, LCSW is a relationship therapist, coach, and host of “Love Talk Live” on LA Talk Radio. Her book, MAN*ifesting: A Step-by-Step Guide to Attracting the Love That Is Meant for You, is now available for pre-order.
2. Fating builds trust
"A study by the University of Iowa found that couples who exercise together are happier in their relationships and have more trust than couples who don't exercise together," notes Pippa Murphy, the sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk. "The researchers concluded that spending time together in an activity like working out helps couples feel closer to each other and builds trust between them because it requires them to work together as a team."
Pippa Murphy is a sex and relationship expert at condoms.uk, which provides access to safe and trusted brands within the sexual health industry, as well as information about your sex health.
3. Fating showcases your character
While things can feel a little rehearsed during a coffee shop date, you can get a good read on your potential partner's personality when you're moving around and enjoying a sport of some sort.
"It’s a chance to bring out your playful side and engage in some friendly competition, and you get a really good sense of your date’s character," says personal trainer Damien Gonzales. "Are they patient? Encouraging? Fun?"
A round of pickleball could be more telling than an evening at the wine bar!
Damien Gonzales and Ewan Ainsworth are personal trainers at PureGym Leeds, which offers classes, access to workout equipment and free training videos, and more.
4. Fating puts us out of our comfort zone
"Doing something physical is often a nice ice-breaker, and pushes us out of our comfort zones," says running coach and expert Elizabeth "Corky" Corkum. "For a date, this allows us to really see who the other person is, both when thriving and struggling. And nothing like a little sweat to lighten the mood!"
One of New York's top running coaches, Corky helps athletes of all ages and skill levels get to the finish line and find a routine that works for them.
5. Fating forces you to engage
You can't be passive when trying to make a basket or reach the top of a rock climbing wall—fating forces you to stay present while out with a potential S.O.
"Unlike a dinner date where you’re stationary and focused on exploring conversational topics, a fitness or activity-based date forces you (in a good way!) to be present and address whatever is happening at that moment," says Shannon Smith, dating expert at Plenty of Fish. "Conversation can flow more naturally."
And if you were worried about coming up with a fun conversation in between the appetizers and main course, fating eliminates that fear.
"Although the idea of a fitness date can feel awkward, it’s actually a great way to remove awkward silences and uncomfortable pauses from a date. You’re always on the move, and there’s plenty to talk about," says personal trainer Ewan Ainsworth.
Shannon is the resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish, a Match Group dating app with personalized connection options that help "create the same magic online that you would IRL."
6. Fating can be cost-effective
As you might've heard, many people are participating in infla-dating, planning more budget-conscious outings while dating, which can spark some creativity. A hike or a rollerblading ride in the park could be a fun way to get to know someone without breaking the bank.
"We’re all feeling the impacts of inflation on our daily lives. A recent survey of more than 8,000 U.S. Plenty of Fish members found that nearly half of single millennials and Gen-Z have suggested going on a less expensive, budget-friendly date, and we know a walk is easier on the wallet than dinner at a restaurant," Smith says.
Convinced? Lace up your Nikes and give it a try! We'll see you on the basketball court.
Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.
Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few.
When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.
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