Recent data shows that more than one in ten (12%) people are going to the gym to find love rather than be in shape, even as average daily activity levels in the UK and Ireland reach their highest levels in three years. According to FLORA's Annual Active Towns Report 2022, more than one in four (26%) individuals have discovered a group of people who share their interests through leading an active lifestyle, whether that group be a friendship or something more.
According to research, in the UK and Ireland, nearly one in ten people (11%) say they met their soul mate at the pool. Gyms, outside jogging, and cycling tie for second place, with 10% of people connecting as they lift weights, pound the pavement, or drive through the countryside.
Exercise is becoming a more common method for individuals to make and keep friends, not only close romantic relationships. More than a quarter (26%) of people now exercise with friends to catch up. Another 18% of people have made pals while working out at the gym.
Research has also shown that attitudes about utilising the gym as a personal dating service vary by age in the UK and Ireland. For instance, research indicates that just 3% of people over the age of 55 utilise fitness centres to find mates, compared to one in three (16–24 year olds, or 30%).
Over a third (34%) of those who work out with others say it keeps them motivated, in addition to helping them make new acquaintances and significant others.
The way we socialise is also changing as many people seem to place less importance on going out to parties. A group exercise session is a much-preferred substitute for going out drinking on the weekends, according to almost one-third (32%) of respondents. 17% of people have even gone so far as to call group exercise their new "night out," no matter what time of day it is.
Over one in twenty (6%) people who are in relationships started a new fitness adventure after meeting a new partner they wished to impress. This shows that even people in partnerships are interested in the advantages of group exercise.
While many people are eager to use exercise to build deeper relationships, it's clear that certain people have issues and encounter barriers when it comes to working up a sweat in front of others. 22% of people skip exercise because of concern about how fit they are, 26% find it humiliating to exercise with others, and 19% can't work out with relatives because of rivalry.
"I'm so thrilled to see people in the UK & Ireland getting together in their towns to push themselves to achieve their fitness objectives," said Paula Radcliffe, brand ambassador for FLORA's Get Towns Active campaign. I have personally experienced the impact that group exercise can have on performance, and I have often used this collective energy to motivate me throughout my career.
FLORA's Head of marketing, John Mulvey, said, "We're thrilled to see so many individuals adopting exercise as a method to engage with their local community in addition to spending more time exercising than in previous years.