What if next time you suit up for a date, you trade your nice shoes for sneakers, dispense with the makeup, skip the wine but grab a water bottle, and fuel up on a granola bar. Sweat might not seem like a welcome friend on a date, but spending active time with your partner might be sweeter than you’d think.
Why spend beautiful summer evenings between the walls of the movie theater or a restaurant when you two could be taking in the fresh air on a jog through the park, or on the bright green grass of a golf course? In the winter, cozy movie nights are great, but why not venture out into the crisp night once in a while to ice skate at the Empire State Plaza? Trying something new together, like ballroom dancing or racquetball, could be an adventure away from the same-old, and experiencing something new together can give you new common interests.
Anthony Puglisi, a fitness specialist at Best Fitness in Albany, has seen the benefits of couples getting fit together.
“You want to be able to show your girlfriend or your boyfriend that you can push yourself a little harder than the other person,” said Puglisi. “But it’s also a support system.”
A study by the University at Indiana earlier this year showed that couples were more than 90 percent more likely to stick to an exercise routine than those going it alone.
Exercise is healthy for the body, mind and soul. It reduces stress and increases energy for an individual, but can also keep a relationship in top shape. It’s also a known aphrodisiac: Exercise it increases circulation and releases endorphins, or feel-good hormones, which are also released during sex. In 1953, famed biologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey found that five percent of women had experienced orgasms just from exercising.
Puglisi says especially when trying to lose weight, couples can hold each other accountable and push each other to continue even when one wants to give up. He says the gym’s challenging boot camp classes are popular for partners, but it depends on the couple.
Jane Tsamardinos, of Albany, and her boyfriend have a goal of skiing the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, but their first time on the slopes together was rough.
“He decided to bring me up to an advanced hill, I was crying and I was falling,” she says. “It’s actually really, really funny, looking back. He was taking care of me and being very, very patient.”
But Tsamardinos says being active and accomplishing things together is a great bonding experience.
“He was teaching me things and teaching me to ski, and I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve never seen him do that.’”
Sasha Spitchka, manager at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Albany, says dancing can even be therapeutic for couples.
“It boosts intimacy because they are doing something together,” she says. “Usually one has to take the responsibility to lead, and you need to trust your partner.”
Spitchka, who is originally from the Ukraine, points out that there, many high-level competitive dance couples are married. “You spend so much time together, you know the person so well, you just want to be together all the time,” she says.
Learning a new skill can also give the couple another shared interest, and a new common ground. Spitchka says couples who learn to dance are also proud of what they have achieved together, and it’s something they can use (or show off) on special occasions.
While the best type of dance depends on the couple, the tango or rumba are especially sexual dances, “but if you do it together, it’s like being one person,” Spitchka says.
Active dates aren’t only for the long-time committed. Hiking around Thatcher Park in Voorheesville is a cinematic scene for a first date, and it’s more wallet- and waist- friendly than sitting down to a few drinks or dinner. Rollerskaing at Guptill’s Arena in Latham, crawling up the Albany Indoor Rock Gym, or playing a round of laser tag at Zero Gravity in Albany are active options for the young-spirited.