Are Exercise Apps The Future Of Online Dating? Meet The Singles Looking For Love On Strava, ZealMatch, And More Leave a comment

When we look back on dating during a pandemic we might think of a void. A time when singles and sexless couples alike, sick of each other’s company, sat down to watch perfectly simultaneous orgasms on screen in a period drama (Bridgerton, I’m looking at you), forgetting what it was like to chat up a stranger and wake up in an unfamiliar bed. 

Or we’ll look back with rose-tinted glasses at wholesome, socially-distanced, outdoor dates. Setting off on yet another walk, the dilemma of how to look cute and show that you have a figure whilst wearing five layers. Occasionally getting a coffee to feel as though you’re “out for drinks”, but worrying all the time that it will count as a picnic. 

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, then, that exercise apps are increasingly being used for dating. Courtship is only permitted in fresh air, Victorian-style promenades with not even an ankle on display due to the biting cold, which has given rise to people finding, and documenting, their dates on apps like Strava.

At first glance, Strava — the running and cycling app — is an unlikely candidate for the choice dating app of the moment. Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have become too obvious (a little like going to a Traffic Light Party dressed in green). Amber-colored Strava helps you mask your real intent while appearing to chase fitness goals.

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Most Strava users will remember flybys, a feature which showed other athletes you’d passed whilst exercising (often if they’d followed the same route for long enough you’d be listed as having exercised together). Due to rather questionable privacy controls, Strava’s flybys are now disabled by default, unless the user chooses to opt-in, but this feature of tracking people that you’ve passed in real life is reminiscent of Happn, a dating app that counted 50 million users at its peak and showed eligible matches from people that you’d passed by.

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