Tired Of Traditional Dating Apps? Try A Fitness App Instead

Over half of American adults under the age of 30 have used a dating app, according to Pew Research Center. But just because something's popular doesn't mean it's good. As Deon Black, a sex educator and dating coach, told Newsweek, dating apps have "reshaped the dynamics of modern romance, making it easier to meet people outside our immediate social circles. [...] However, they're also responsible for accelerating casual dating and hookup culture, which can lead to negative emotional consequences for some users." Add in superficial swiping features, dead-end DM convos, and the decision paralysis that comes with having dozens of matches, and it's easy to see why, per a study by Singles Reports, 78% of people have experienced online dating burnout.


Some daters have found an alternative, and no, it's not looking for love at a bar or The Home Depot. Athletic singles are turning to fitness apps to find "the one," all while tracking their running stats and bike routes.

At the forefront of the trend is Strava, an app designed to help runners, cyclists, and hikers record and share their workouts. Users can then support each other with "kudos" and encouraging comments,  which leaves some wiggle room for flirting. Sure, it's not as straightforward as the DMs on Tinder or Bumble, but that's exactly why it might help you find your ideal match.

Why a fitness app could be the perfect matchmaker

When dating sites and apps first appeared on the scene, they seemed to cut through the fluff and get right to the point: finding a romantic partner. But when all you have in common with your matches is a desire to be in a relationship, it can be hard to truly connect. "Dating apps are almost too on-the-nose," Serena Kerrigan, a dating expert on TikTok and creator of the "Let's F***ing Date" card game, explained to Elle. "It's too much pressure. You feel like [dating] is a job interview and the job is my husband. [Strava] is a running app. People want to have an excuse to engage and something to talk about." If you're already an avid athlete, or at least hoping to become one, a fitness-oriented app can make it easier to break the ice and bond over a genuine shared interest.


Still, Strava was never intended to become a dating app, and for a while, users connected without private direct messages. However, likely due to demand, the fitness tool introduced Strava Messaging in December 2023, giving friends — and crushes — the chance to DM without switching to another platform.

Other exercise apps were made for romantic pursuits from the start. The Fitafy app matches you to other singles based on shared fitness and dietary habits, while Lunge introduces you to cuties in your gym and fitness classes.

Can you really find love on a workout app?

Finding your soulmate on a running or cycling app might sound like a shot in the dark, but it's worked for some fitness buffs. In 2016, long before Strava became associated with dating, one couple shared their love story with Bicycling. The passionate cyclists first followed each other on the app purely for riding inspiration, but soon, their friendly comments turned flirty, and they eventually connected on other platforms outside of Strava. After a whirlwind online courtship, they finally met in person and tied the knot in a small ceremony in Australia.


In 2023, another couple revealed their Strava marriage to Insider. Similar to the cycling couple, these Strava users started off with platonic exchanges about nutrition and running shoes. They eventually met outside of the app and, after a few years of dating, welcomed a son and got married.

However, there's one point to note when linking up with fellow athletes: privacy. Apps like Strava allow users to share their locations and exercise routes, which can attract unwanted advances — both online and IRL. One Redditor shared in a thread, "I've already had a very unwanted connection on strava. The dude followed my profile, figured out where my routes were, and then commented when he followed me in person." Practice caution just as you would on traditional dating apps, and know that not everyone you connect with is meant to be your swolemate.