Fitness dates give you the benefit of an automatic common ground to talk about – especially on first dates. They give you an opportunity to learn about your partner's strengths (or weaknesses) around coordination and skill as well as their competitive spirit, sense of fair play, and even humility (if they're not so good at what you're doing).
Fitness dates also inject a fabulous fun factor that can far exceed the standard coffee, movie or dinner date – save those for wintertime get-togethers. Here are eight great summer fitness date ideas that can add a little spark (and a bit of sweat) to a budding or full-grown romance:
1. Take a lesson
Whether it's tennis, fly fishing, rollerblading or golf, private lessons (read: just the two of you and your coach) can be a fun way to while away your time together. Depending on your chosen activity, lessons can be as short as a half hour or take a half day or more. Lessons may not make the best-first-date list, but if your first date uncovered some common interests, why not jump on the bandwagon and offer up the suggestion to "take it to the next level" – with both your relationship and your choice of activity?
Benefit: Once you've taken your lesson, you have one more thing in common that you're likely to be more excited about doing together.
2. Drive the point home
My first date with my boyfriend was at the driving range. We met, whacked a bucket or two of balls and had a great time chatting and laughing at our less than brilliant golf skills (sure, nervousness could have been a factor).
Page 1 of 4 – Discover why playing a round of golf (or even just practising together at the driving range) makes for a great date on page 2.
Benefit: Our time at the range was short enough (about 45 minutes) that if things hadn't gone well, we could have ended the date right there (very important for first dates). But since they did go well, we still had time to grab a bite and carry on the conversation… still laughing at our skill level and talking about taking lessons (remember number 1?).
3. Pick up the pace
If you're a runner, you'll naturally appreciate others who also run. There's no better way to get to know someone than during a meditative, low-skill activity like running. Sure, it's an old standby, but it has staying power for a reason. Active people want to be with other active people.
Running gets us away from our work and life stress, and the simplicity of the activity makes it easy to multitask with real conversation. It's great for early stage dating because when you're running you're not facing each other, so the shyness factor decreases and the real you gets a chance to shine. Yes, the sweat factor is a little high, but to some that can be attractive.
4. Urban exploration
What could be more romantic than a leisurely stroll through the markets and streets in your area? Urban exploration allows for activity (walking) with a purpose – seeing what you can stumble upon in the city.
A friend of mine in Toronto and her mate regularly walk through Kensington Market, the shops on the Danforth, and other fun and funky neighbourhoods where they live. When they get hungry they choose a place to eat, rest awhile and then continue on their way. Sometimes it's an hour-long adventure; other times it fills a whole Saturday.
Or what about an urban hike in one of your local parks? Parks offer more than what is often apparent to the eye… miles and miles of trail systems, hidden waterfalls, even wild animals. Head out with no real plan in mind and see where your feet take you.
Benefit: Spontaneity provides an adventurous tone to your date, and gives you great moments to reflect back on.
Page 2 of 4 – Find out which great activity will have you and your date feeling like kids again on page 3.
You may be a bit overwhelmed by the thought of an entire day in the mountains on a first date, but if you and your potential paramour know you can stand each other's company for longer stretches, why not make a day of it?
Choose a hike in your local wilderness area (it doesn't have to be mountainous to count), arrange to drive out together, and spend the day communing with Mother Nature and your date. There's something about nature that provides relaxation and ease between people, and the pace of a hike allows for good conversation.
A hike also requires a bit more planning and preparation than your average outing, so you'll get to see that side of your mate, too. Make sure you pack a great lunch, lots of water and all the safety gear you need to be comfortable. Nothing spoils a date faster than low blood sugar, a nasty blister or bad weather and improper clothing.
6. Some like it hot
Remember taking summer swimming lessons at your local outdoor pool? There's something fun and energizing about splashing about in a pool with someone you like while the sun beats down on you. It brings me back to my childhood and makes me do crazy things like cannonballing off the high board.
If the smell of chlorine and the din of screaming kids are too much, head to nature with a visit to the ocean or a nearby lake or river. Include a hike beforehand, plan a lunch after, and you've designed the perfect day at the beach.
Benefit: If you're still getting to know your mate, swimming is a great way to see the great shape they're in from all of your activity dates. For some that could also feel like a downfall, so choose your activities accordingly.
7. Toss around this idea
Frisbee golf is an adaptation that has you tossing Frisbees toward a target (usually a net) the same way you would hit a golf ball toward the pin. Most cities have Frisbee golf courses set up in local parks. It's easier than golf (depending on how well you throw a Frisbee) and has a high fun factor because it's pretty novel.
Games can take a couple of hours but since the courses are usually free you can walk off the course whenever you've had enough. No access to a Frisbee golf course? Just head to the park and toss a Frisbee with each other. Face to face conversation with a bit of distance between you is a great tension reducer, especially on those early dates, and Frisbee tossing can generate a bit of running around and a few laughs.
8. Meet the pets
Any pet owner will tell you, "If they don't like my dog, they're out." Since pets are often raised to the status of family member by their owners, it's usually a big deal to meet and get along with your partner's pooch. And if you're a pet owner too, you want to know that your doggies get along as well as you do.
Dog walk dates centre the energy around your pets as a topic of conversation; they also introduce another common interest you two may share, and let you see if there is chemistry between date and beast. Since dogs require regular exercise, this could be a way to spend more time with your love interest.
The list of possible outdoor dates is endless. Be creative. Consider your common interests and the amount of time you have (or would like) to spend with your partner. Physical activity gives you energy and makes you feel good about yourself, and since confidence and sense of adventure are attractive qualities for anyone to possess, that's bound to make your mate stand up and take notice.
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