Love & Relationships

Are Run Clubs The New Dating Apps?

Dating is hard. Yes, that's a known fact for many, but one question that my friends and I keep revisiting is where to go to find the men we want. Meeting guys at bars is still a thing, but that's not always promising. Running into the man of your dreams at the grocery store can happen, but you don't really hear about that anymore. If you're in the same boat as I am, then this article may be for you. Recently, I came across a tweet that said run clubs are the new dating apps, and I immediately sent it to my bestie and one of my brothers, who belongs to a run club.

My bestie responded, "Dang, is that what we have to do now? Meet them all sweaty & out of breath lol." While my brother wasn't sure about it being the new dating app, he did say it was a great way to meet new people. As someone who recently tried dating apps again and was ultimately reminded why I got off years ago, I was open to putting this theory to the test. My mom actually suggested I should join a run club months ago, and when I told her about the tweet, she reminded me that mothers are always right.

But before I find a run club to join, I thought I would tap an expert about this recent phenomenon. Imani Tutt is an LMFT therapist and relationship coach and shared whether or not run clubs were the new way to meet singles.

xoNecole: There was a tweet that had a lot of people talking, which said, "Run club is the new dating app." Are people leaving dating apps and meeting singles through clubs and activities instead?

Imani Tutt: I wouldn’t necessarily say people are leaving dating apps altogether, but it’s evident that more individuals are recognizing the value of finding a partner who shares common interests and similar values. This realization underscores the idea that slow and steady often wins the race (no pun intended).

Running clubs, in particular, have seen a surge in popularity since the pandemic, a time when many of us were on lockdown and searching for new ways to stay active and connected. These clubs attract people not only because of their shared interest in fitness and health but also due to the social opportunities they offer. Participants have the chance to meet new people in a natural setting they already enjoy, fostering organic connections that might be harder to achieve through the often impersonal nature of dating apps.

Moreover, activities like running clubs provide a platform for individuals to engage in a healthy, productive hobby while also expanding their social circles. The camaraderie and mutual support inherent in these clubs can lead to deeper, more meaningful connections. This trend isn’t limited to running; other interest-based groups, such as hiking clubs, book clubs, and volunteer organizations, are also becoming popular alternatives for meeting potential partners.

xoN: Is this a new concept, or is it just becoming popular?

IT: I believe this is a relatively new concept that is rapidly gaining popularity. Many people are growing tired of the superficial interactions that often occur on dating apps. On these platforms, users frequently portray idealized versions of themselves, which can lead to disingenuous connections.

In contrast, running clubs offer an environment where individuals can be more authentic and vulnerable. When people participate in physical activities like running, they show their true selves—they're sweaty, tired, and without the masks they might wear online. This authenticity fosters genuine connections and meaningful relationships as participants bond over shared experiences and challenges rather than curated profiles. As a result, running clubs provide a refreshing alternative to traditional dating methods, emphasizing sincerity and authenticity over superficial impressions.

"Running clubs offer an environment where individuals can be more authentic and vulnerable. As a result, running clubs provide a refreshing alternative to traditional dating methods, emphasizing sincerity and authenticity over superficial impressions."
Black couple stretching

DMP/ Getty Images

xoN: Why is this the best way to meet singles?

IT: I wouldn't say this is the absolute best way to meet singles, but it's definitely a great option if you enjoy running. Engaging in an activity you love allows you to meet like-minded people, which can be a fantastic foundation for forming new relationships. When you're part of a running group, you regularly interact with the same individuals, making it easier to build bonds and develop friendships over time; very similar to how it was when we were in school.

I believe this principle applies to any club or group centered around shared interests. Whether it's a book club, a cooking class, or a hiking group, participating in activities that you are passionate about naturally brings you closer to others who share those passions, creating opportunities for meaningful connections.

Additionally, meeting people through a shared hobby can take the pressure off needing to find a partner right away. You're there primarily to enjoy the activity, and any romantic connections that form feel more organic and less forced. Being in a comfortable and familiar environment can also help you present your best self, as you're likely to be more relaxed and confident.

xoN: Besides running clubs, what are some other clubs that people can join to meet singles, especially for people who aren't interested in athletic clubs?

IT: When looking to meet singles outside of athletic clubs, it’s important to consider your interests and hobbies. Do not join a club solely to meet a partner; that is a one-way ticket to a disaster waiting to happen.

When you take the time to understand your own interests and hobbies, you give yourself the opportunity to not only meet like-minded individuals but also enjoy the activities you participate in. Here are several types of clubs and groups where you can meet singles:

Art Clubs: If you have a passion for painting, drawing, or any form of visual arts, joining an art club can be a great way to connect with others who share your interest. These clubs often organize workshops, gallery visits, and art exhibitions, providing ample opportunities to socialize.

Music Clubs: Whether you enjoy playing an instrument, singing, or simply appreciating music, music clubs offer a variety of activities such as jam sessions, concerts, and music appreciation nights. These events can be a fun way to meet people who share your musical tastes.

Book Clubs: For those who love reading, book clubs offer a perfect setting to discuss literature with others. Book clubs typically meet regularly to discuss a chosen book, fostering deep conversations and connections over shared literary interests.

Poetry and Writing Groups: If writing is your passion, joining a poetry or writing group can be incredibly fulfilling. These groups often host readings, workshops, and critique sessions, allowing you to improve your craft while meeting others who enjoy writing.

Church: For those who are faith-based, church groups can provide a supportive community. These groups often organize social events, volunteer opportunities, and study sessions, which can be great for meeting new people with similar values.

Volunteer Organizations: Joining a volunteer group can be a rewarding way to meet people while giving back to the community. Whether it’s through environmental causes, animal shelters, or community service projects, volunteering can connect you with others who are passionate about making a difference.

Meeting people through volunteering

Luis Alvarez/ Getty Images

Hobby and Craft Clubs: From knitting circles to model building, hobby and craft clubs bring together people with specific interests. These clubs offer a relaxed environment to work on projects and chat with others who enjoy the same hobbies.

Cooking Classes and Clubs: If you love cooking or want to improve your culinary skills, cooking classes or clubs can be a fun way to meet others. These groups often involve hands-on cooking sessions followed by social dining experiences.

Language Exchange Groups: For those interested in learning a new language, language exchange groups offer a unique opportunity to practice speaking with native speakers and other learners. These groups often meet in casual settings, providing a friendly environment for conversation and cultural exchange.

Gaming Groups: Whether you’re into board games, video games, or tabletop RPGs, gaming groups can be a fantastic way to meet fellow enthusiasts. Many cities have game stores or cafes that host regular game nights, creating a fun and interactive way to meet new people.

Hiking Groups: If you enjoy the great outdoors, joining a hiking group can be an excellent way to meet new people while staying active. Hiking groups often organize regular hikes ranging from easy to challenging trails, allowing you to explore nature and bond with others who appreciate outdoor adventures.

xoN: Where can someone find these clubs?

IT: You can find these clubs through a variety of platforms and methods:

TikTok: Many clubs and interest groups promote their activities and events on TikTok. By following relevant hashtags and accounts, one can discover new clubs and communities.

Facebook Groups: Facebook is a rich resource for finding clubs. There are numerous groups dedicated to various interests, hobbies, and activities. Searching for specific keywords related to your interests can lead you to active communities.

Word of Mouth: Personal recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues are often invaluable. By talking to people in your social circle, you can discover clubs that align with your interests and gain insights into their experiences.

Eventbrite: This platform lists a wide range of events, including club meetings, workshops, and social gatherings. By searching for events in your area, you can find clubs hosting activities that interest you.

Instagram: Many clubs use Instagram to promote their activities, share updates, and engage with their members. Following club accounts and relevant hashtags can help you stay informed about upcoming events and initiatives.

Meetup: Meetup is a popular platform designed specifically to connect people with similar interests. You can search for clubs and events based on your interests and location.

Local Community Centers and Libraries: Many local community centers and libraries host clubs and interest groups. Checking their bulletin boards and websites can provide information on upcoming meetings and events.

University and College Campuses: If you're a student or have access to a campus, universities and colleges often have a wide range of clubs. Their student services offices or club fairs are excellent places to find out more.

Online Forums and Websites: Websites like Reddit, Quora, and specialized forums can be great resources for finding clubs. By participating in discussions and asking for recommendations, you can connect with like-minded individuals.

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