Tinder, Bumble, how about CrossFit? Hong Kong couples share love stories related to fitness, not dating apps
- CrossFit couples Nina Wong and John Houston, and Kevin Lam and Patricia Yu, say a mutual love for fitness brought the first sparks of romance into their lives
- Common interests are a pillar of a healthy relationship, according to a study done by the Pew Research Centre, and fitness has become the norm for many modern couples
Nina Wong said she had an inkling South African John Houston wanted to ask her out but was still working the courage up to do it when they first met in 2016.
The two had been training together at CrossFit 852 in Hong Kong, and Wong, who is originally from the US, said Houston, a pilot with Cathay Pacific, started showing interest in her pretty early on.
“He wanted to ask me for coffee, but I think he thought it would be too friendly,” Wong, who works for HSBC, said. “I remember coming into the gym, but then he would always come around to chat with me, and I thought, ‘Everyone is so friendly here.’”
Houston said it was tough because Wong always seemed to be on the go, and his windows for chatting were small and fast.
“She was always rushing to and from the gym, she would come in to workout at lunch and then be gone so quickly,” he said.
Houston also started going to the lunchtime yoga class at the gym – even though he did not like yoga – because he knew Wong would be there. Finally, he could not wait any longer and bit the bullet. The two were friends, but Houston wanted more and one night while they were out with friends drinking at a bar, he made his move.
“There was definitely some liquid courage involved,” said Houston with a laugh. “I basically just told her I had a crush on her, and I guess as they say, the rest is history.”
“Even now that we are married, fitness in general has been big for us, and CrossFit,” Lam said. “It was a big reason why we got together, similar interests, and I think we really enjoy the aspect of improving ourselves.”
Lam even made the sacrifice of going to morning workouts at the beginning of their romance so he could spend more time with Yu.
“Yeah I stated doing morning workouts, and that was not my jam – but she was,” he said.
Yu said a lot of their relationship is based on positivity and teamwork, some common pillars of the athletic and fitness world.
“I like the way I feel around him, and I feel like he makes me a better person in a lot of ways,” she said. “He helps push me, and me push myself.”
Astrid Merkt, a performance psychologist who is based in Hong Kong and works with couples along with athletes, as part of her practice, said CrossFit also brings with it a community and sense of accountability that can help a couple set a proper foundation in today’s fast paced world of dating.
“With time being so valuable nowadays, it only highlights the importance of spending it wisely,” Merkt said. “So, when fitness can be done with your romantic partner, you find healthy ways to spend time together and strengthen the bond.
“You also understand each other prioritising time for fitness and how important it is to schedule it in. Motivating each other when needed, and choosing weekends and time off to pursue similar goals in sport.”
Houston said communication lay at the heart of their relationship, but the fact they enjoy doing the same type of things makes it more natural.
“I think we both just have always enjoyed fitness so that’s been our common interest, we go out and do exercise with friends, or together, just being active together.”
Wong said there’s also a competitive spirit built into their relationship that ultimately makes its way into their workouts. “He always tells me to go heavier, and to push myself.”