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Love Worth The Weight: Over One In Ten Hit The Gym In Search Of Romance

couple kissing in the gym

As average daily activity levels across the UK & Ireland reach the highest they’ve been in three years, the latest research reveals over one in ten (12%) are hitting the gym to find love rather than get buff.

Findings from FLORA’s Annual Active Towns Report 2022 show over one in four (26%) have found a community of like-minded people by living a more active lifestyle, whether that includes a friendship or something more.  

Research also reveals generational differences in mentalities towards using the gym as a personal dating service across both the UK and Ireland. For example, data shows one in three (30%) 16-24-year-olds use fitness centres to search for partners, compared to just 3% of over 55s.  

When it comes to the best sports for finding love when you’re getting sweaty, data shows swimming tops the charts with over one in ten (11%) in the UK & Ireland meeting their sweetheart by the pool.

Sharing second place are the gym, outdoor running and cycling, with 10% making connections while they hit the weights, pound the pavement or cruise through the country.  


Rank Activity Percentage of people in the UK & I that have met a partner (%)  
Swimming 11% 
=2 Gym 10% 
=2 Outdoor runs 10% 
=2 Cycling 10% 
Park games (e.g. Volleyball or Rounders) 9% 
=4 Yoga 8% 
=4 Team sports 8% 
Football/5 a side 7% 
Boxing 6% 

But people aren’t just using exercise to form intimate connections, it’s an increasingly popular way of making and maintaining friendships.

More than a quarter (26%) now workout with their buddies as a way of catching up too. A quarter of men also say they’ve met some of their closest pals through 5-a-side football. A further 18% have also formed friendships whilst pumping iron at the gym.  

Beyond meeting significant others and friends, data shows working out with others brings a whole host of other benefits as over a third (34%) say it keeps them motivated.  

It’s also reshaping the way we socialise, as partying appears to be lower on the agenda for many. Nearly a third (32%) say a group workout session provides a much-preferred alternative to going out drinking at the weekend.

17% have even gone as far as saying the endorphins generated by group exercise make it their new ‘night out’, regardless of the time of day.  

Even those in relationships are seeking out the benefits of communal exercising as over one in 20 (6%) embarked on a new fitness journey after meeting a new partner they wanted to impress.  

However, while many are keen to utilise exercise to form deeper connections, it’s apparent that some are experiencing hang-ups and obstacles when it comes to sweating it out in front of others.

22% avoid exercise for fear of being judged for their current fitness level, 26% find it too embarrassing to exercise with others, and 19% can’t workout with family due to competitiveness. 

Paula Radcliffe Brand Ambassador for FLORA’s Get Towns Active campaign commented: “I’m so pleased to see people in the UK & Ireland coming together in their communities to motivate themselves to reach their fitness goals.

I’ve seen first-hand the difference that exercising with others can have on performance and I’ve relied on that collective power to spur me at many points throughout my career.  

“FLORA’s Get Towns Active campaign is all about encouraging people across the UK & Ireland to take steps towards a healthier and more active lifestyle, and that’s why I am standing with FLORA as Brand Ambassador because it’s a cause close to my heart.

I want to encourage others to experience the positive benefits of healthy lifestyle choices in the same way I have.”  

John Mulvey, Head of Marketing at FLORA, commented: “The findings from FLORA’s Annual Active Towns Report are really encouraging and we’re pleased to see so many people not only spending more time exercising than in previous years but also using exercise as a way of engaging with their local community.  

“After a few years of lockdowns and now in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis where 40% of people say they are struggling to afford to exercise, working out together can be a great way to spend time with loved ones. It’s also a great way to save money by taking a simple first step such as going for a walk.  

“FLORA has been bringing people together around the dining table for over 50 years and now we are delighted to bring people together to get active too. Our team of Activists on Instagram are providing top tips on how to stay active and healthy with nutritional recipe ideas.” 

For more information on how to join in FLORA’s Get Towns Active movement, visit and follow along with Mark Wright, Paula Radcliffe, and the rest of the FLORA community on Instagram using #TeamFlora #GetTownsActive.

You can also follow those from the FLORA community who have chosen to take on this year’s TCS London Marathon as their ultimate fitness goal.