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Health and wellness

Is CrossFit the new Tinder? How the latest fitness craze is giving Hongkongers the chance of finding true love

Hong Kong’s hottest fitness regimen is making waves in the dating game as the tough training sessions help exercising individuals bond, and before you know it romance blossoms

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2018, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2018, 12:51pm

Tired of Tinder, or heading to the nightclub at the weekend to try to find that special someone? Then it’s time to trade your evening wear for something a bit more sporty as CrossFit is sweeping through Hong Kong, and it’s the new way of meeting people.

A variety of media outlets such as The Huffington Post, Muscle & Fitness and The New York Times have highlighted the recent trend within the CrossFit world, where thanks to it people are meeting for the first time and eventually dating.

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The fitness regime runs groups through various workouts that incorporate everything from powerlifting and high-intensity training to gymnastics and plyometrics. Doing this together helps build community and camaraderie between those taking part as Crossfitters suffer through their workouts of the day together, in timed sessions.

Cris O’Brien, the owner of CrossFit Asphodel in Kennedy Town, was the first gym of its kind to open in Hong Kong back in 2010. O’Brien met his wife Vanessa Cheung at CrossFit and the couple got married last year. O’Brien said they’ve had multiple relationships start at their gym. As a coach, he stays out of his clients’ personal lives, but can definitely see the allure of why meeting someone at CrossFit might make for a good fit, given the anecdotal evidence he is seen at CrossFit Asphodel.

“It’s not an uncommon story now I would say,” says O’Brien of CrossFit couples. “Our head coach, Ash [Booth], met his wife through CrossFit and one of our other senior coaches – our strength specialist coach Taylor [Rank] – also met his wife through CrossFit. So it’s definitely not a unique occurrence now by any means.”

I always say, we’re the nicest, healthiest cult out there
Dan Wan, coach

O’Brien said a lot of the people who come to his gym live “high-intensity” lives, so meeting someone who shares a similar outlook on life checks off a pretty important box right from the start. “There’s a certain type of person that is drawn to this high-intensity workout, too,” he added.

Sophie McKenzie, a senior coach with CrossFit 852 in Central, said she has seen lots of romantic relationships start during workouts. She noted the gym has about 150 members and they’re usually split into people who like to take morning classes and those who come after work.

Of course, like everywhere, she said some of the romantic relationships have lasted and some have flamed out, but there’s an added bonus of meeting someone at CrossFit that might not apply to Tinder or meeting someone randomly in a bar.

“People can be a lot more careful than, say, just drunkenly hooking up with somebody,” she says. “If you know you’re going to the gym the next day and will see that person, you might be a bit more careful in your selection. And we all know each other. So you’re a little bit more careful about doing stupid things, and you also don’t want to ruin your gym environment because people love coming every day.”

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McKenzie said on top of classes where people can mingle before and after their session, many head out together for drinks or food after the evening classes to unwind. She said they also do regular junk boat trips, host parties and have a tight-knit community on social media.

“It’s really good because sometimes the morning group won’t meet the nighttime group, so it’s just a good way for them to socialise even if they’re not in a class together. And they also think, ‘Well this is great – there are more people than just the 10 people I see every morning at my class.’”

McKenzie didn’t meet her husband at CrossFit; however, she said he embraced the fitness craze while dating her and fell in love with it in the process.

“I think he realised if he didn’t get into it he would never see me,” she says. “Now he is probably the most famous person there. He is better known than me. It’s always cool to see couples who met at CrossFit working out at the gym together. You can really see that bond in action.”

CrossFit first started back in 2000 in the United States, and has exploded internationally since. A recent Men’s Health article estimates there are around 13,000 gyms worldwide. The CrossFit Games, sponsored by Reebok and held every year, have also gone from a fringe event to sold-out stadiums, and finals are televised across the US.

Valentina Tudose, who has been working as a dating coach in Hong Kong since 2014, said physical activities are a great way to meet suitable partners. She said CrossFit meets a number of requirements when you’re choosing a suitable partner, as you already have a shared interest for a very specific type of fitness.

“You have one thing in common with everybody who is there,” says Tudose. “And that might extend to your love of nutrition or just working out, but you already have something you can talk to these people about, and that just makes it a lot easier. And when people share passions, they connect a lot better. And they do say CrossFit is a bit like a religion.”

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CrossFit 852 coach Dan Wan agrees, saying the fitness regime definitely has a bit of a theological aspect to it.

“I always say, we’re the nicest, healthiest cult out there,” he quips.