I Tried Finding Love While Sweating Profusely During a Speed Dating Workout
I’ll try anything once.
When it comes to finding love, incessantly swiping has only gotten me so far, so the opportunity to partake in a speed dating-esque workout was one I couldn’t pass up.
While my 28-year-old millennial self has never attended a traditional speed dating event, I had taken Switch Playground USA. Switch, founded by Steve Uria, opened its first New York City studio in late 2016 (a second one opening shortly after). The concept of the group HIIT class is simple: Show up, pair up, work out, and leave fully saturated with a smile on your face.
You see, it’s hard to feel stagnant in a Switch class. You move stations every 2 minutes in a constant clockwise rotation, switching up your workout from something such as a basic jog on the treadmill to intense rope pulls as if you’re tugging an F-150.
As a regular Switch taker, I thought “Love at First Switch,” its special singles-only class for those in pursuit of a partner in crime, would be a piece of cake. Wearing black would be my trick to hide the sweat that’d ooze out of my pores mid-pump, and I’d use my previous Switch experience to confidently master each station as I dragged my exhausted body round and round many times before.
Besides, there was no need to be nervous. Every guy in attendance — I’m gay, if didn’t clue you in — was in the same boat, and we all thought working out together would be the best way to find “the one” on a Friday night after work.
Before I knew it, the lights dimmed, the music was cranked up to an uncomfortable volume … and we were off.
Good luck had me starting off easy, strutting my way up a StairMaster next to Sal, a friend I’d brought me with me as moral support. We took the higher elevation as an opportunity to scout out any potential like a hawk hunting its prey, making a mental note of talking points to bring up upon becoming their brief workout buddy. Unfortunately, with each new suitor whose hand I shook, I was barely able to catch my breath long enough to say my name, let alone ask their favorite movie, where they grew up or why they also went the workout route when it comes to finding a soulmate.
Aside from the difficulty initiating (and maintaining) conversation, names became completely irrelevant as I focused on not making a fool of myself mid kettlebell swing. I found myself so set on getting the most out of my workout, pushing as hard as I could without leaving puddles in my wake, that I forgot that I was supposed to be flirting.
Luckily, I found out prior to the event that my knack for dampening T-shirts in record time might play as a positive in this atmosphere I’d put myself in.
“Past studies have shown that there’s a chemical in sweat that is a natural pheromone in which some individuals are attracted to,” says Dr. Evan Goldstein of Bespoke Surgical.
“If you see someone you’re attracted to at the gym or on the beach, and they’re sweaty, that could be sexy seeing someone in a naturally glistening state. Take, for example, the countless photoshoots and magazine spreads with bodies that are oiled up to make it look like they’re sweaty. Clearly, many find that sexy and are attracted to it, yet up close and personal, the pheromones they are emitting may not be what gets you off. The key to sweating is highlighting the positives of your own pheromones, minimizing any negative effects. And at the end of the day, specifically in these situations, we are all looking for long-lasting compatibility — to smell or not to smell. Let’s leave it at that.”
Goldstein also notes that the shear act of working out with a stranger, being vulnerable in your undoubtedly sweat-covered state, is more of the attractive quality to admire in this situation — not how much you can bench press.
“I think being vulnerable is a really attractive quality that turns people on. But, of course, that doesn’t come easy,” he adds. “We all have a natural tendency to always want to look our best, but that’s not who we really are and not how we’re always going to be. People are attracted to others who let their guards down.”
An hour flew by, and once the class wrapped up, everyone was encouraged to mingle and nosh on the free food and non-alcoholic beverages provided in the studio’s lobby area. Some did just that, flocking towards the Peruvian catering like it was their first meal in weeks. Others, like myself, lingered back to get the opinion of the class from the friend they’d brought, and a few immediately darted to their lockers downstairs, clearly in a hurry to dry off and get back on the apps.
Almost immediately, I wished for some type of contact sheet, similar to ones you’d receive in grade school. As our phones were stored in a locker, far away from where the socializing occurred, I knew that even if I’d wanted to leave with someone’s digits, there was no way I’d memorize it. A simple page filled with names, numbers and even Instagram handles would’ve been sufficient, making for a fun activity on my subway ride home to Queens.
Ultimately, I left feeling sore, sweaty … and still very much without a boyfriend. Encouraging singles to find romance during an experience that’s typically not so love-filled is definitely a unique idea, but going forward, I think I’d prefer to keep pumping iron and my pursuit for love separate.
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