The Rise of Exerdating—And Why We Should All Be Doing It

By: Annie Daly

Published: January 29, 2019

Ahh, February, that lovely time of year when people feel the urge to throw down mad cash on fancy-pants white-tablecloth Valentine’s Day dinners, bottles upon bottles of red wine, and, of course, all of the red roses. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those bitter V-Day haters—I actually don’t mind the holiday, as I truly do love love. But I’ve gotta say, I think the whole dinner and roses thing is a bit…tired. We can do better than that, you guys. May I suggest making this the season of exerdating, instead?

Exerdating 101

Exerdating is exactly what it sounds like: a combination of exercise and a date. It is when you exercise on a date—and with the rise of boutique fitness classes and a general interest in health and fitness, more and more people these days are hopping on the exerdating bandwagon. Of course, for the uninitiated, exerdating can still seem a bit counterintuitive. What about the wine, they ask? What about the good food? What about my sweaty hair? What about the fact that I get super red and puffy when I’m working out, and I don’t really want my date to see that? Those are all valid questions, yes. But exerdating converts know better.

For starters, one of the best things about exerdating is that it’s a great way to get to know someone pretty damn fast—moreso, in many ways, than the whole dinner and cocktails thing. Let’s say you and your date decide to go to a spin class together pretty early on in your relationship, for example. If you see him or her hustling hard on that bike, turning the knob harder and harder when the instructor tells you all to climb that hill, you’ll know that this is a person who is devoted to a cause. This is a hard worker. A hustler. This is someone who is unlikely to give up, someone who will likely not accept defeat too easily—all life qualities that are considered generally desirable in a human. Now, would you get to know that much about someone by sharing a bottle of Malbec and roasted brussels sprouts? Perhaps. But one of the great things about an exerdate is that you get to see your date walking the walk, not just talking the talk–and that real-life action can make a big difference. Plus, if you are a person who values personal fitness—which I assume you are if you’re reading this blog—then actually seeing your date sweat it out in class as opposed to just talking about it is also all of the proof you need that you share similar values.

Another perk of the exerdate: the natural high you both experience after your workout is over. Sure, getting a little wine drunk is great and all, but that endorphin rush you experience after sweating your face off is the real deal, man. Call me crazy, but I think getting to chill with someone in that period of post-workout bliss can reveal greater insights about their true, natural personality than a bottle of liquid courage ever can. My suggestion: After your workout is over, go get a coffee or a green smoothie—or, hell, you could even throw down for some brunch and mimosas. The point is, you’ll both feel so high on life after your workout that your experience will be that much more enjoyable.

And as for the whole date outfit thing? Fortunately, we live in an age of no-makeup selfies and adorably cute workout gear. I have a guy friend who told me that he prefers going on exerdates for first dates so that he can see what his date actually looks like from the get-go, as opposed to how she looks when she’s all done up in makeup. It’s a great way to get to the heart of the matter more quickly, and if both parties are willing to ~go there~ right away, it can only mean good things for their future together. Plus, workout clothes are so stylish these days—for both girls and guys—meaning the whole “cool date outfit” thing still totally applies. In fact, I actually find it easier to dress “cute” when I’m wearing workout gear than when I’m wearing normal clothes!

Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together

Exerdating isn’t just for early-on dates, though. Countless studies over the years have shown that couples who weave exerdates into their long-term relationship are happier in the long run, too. One of the most classic studies about couples who sweat together found that exercise induces the same symptoms of physiological arousal—sweaty hands, shortness of breath, and a racing pulse—which basically means that you may inevitably be turned on simply by working out with your partner, and are likely to find him or her more attractive while you’re exercising, too. (Thank you, Science!) Other research has found that people who work out with their partners on a consistent basis are likely to report greater feelings of having “bonded” with each other. In fact, in one particular study, researchers found that couples who exercise together tend to copy each other—for example, they may run at the same pace or start swinging the kettlebell in the same way—and that behavior creates “nonverbal matching,” also known as mimicry, which has been shown to strengthen bonds, too.

The point is, no matter where you are in your relationship—whether you’re just starting to date someone, or you’re years into married life—going on an exerdate is a great idea. Not only will you sweat it out together, you’ll also end up sweating each other—and that’s what I call a workout win.