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There’s one primary thing every man should know about women and sports: Even though some of us only pretend to like them, many of us secretly hope that our potential boyfriends and hookups are at least somewhat athletic. Simply because, well, fit guys are hot. That said, if you’ve been toying with the idea of asking that cute chick from the coffee shop on some type of active first date, you’re spot on. Sporty dates provide a great opportunity for you to show off your vitality and sense of adventure. They also keep the mood light and provide a filler activity and fall back discussion topic if there are any lulls in conversation. Getting a little physical (no, not that kind of physical) with your date can also turn her onto you if she’s on the fence, according to one Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study. The sweaty hands, racing pulse and shortness of breath that come along with exercise mimic the physical effects of romantic lust, say researchers. And as strange as it seems, people often mistake their workout high with sexual attraction.
First dates, can be tricky, though. You don’t want to organize something that will leave either of you dripping in sweat or embarrassed about your lack of coordination. Since it can be tough to strike the right balance, we’ve gathered 15 girl-approved, sporty first date ideas that fit the bill.
Catch a “Wave”
Unless you’re both seasoned surfers, we suggest staying away from actual waves on a first date—there are far too many things that can go awry. The better move? An indoor surfing class at SurfSet (locations nationwide). Participants each get their own surfboard which sits on air-filled discs that simulate waves. Students follow the instructor through a series of squats, lunges, pushups, and other bodyweight exercises that work the core. Afterward, grab a smoothie or protein shake for some class re-cap and getting-to-know-you time.
Play Laser Tag
Whether you partner up or go head to head on opposing teams, laser tag is a laid back, fun way to get to know a new potential boo. Just be sure to give your date a heads up on your date idea before you pick her up to ensure she’s dressed and ready to bring her A-game!
Catch a Minor League Game
Even if she’s not a big sports fan, she’s sure to enjoy a laid back evening or afternoon at a minor league ball game. Amateur teams tend to have more entertainment during the game, which will provide you with tons of conversation starters. Plus, the drinks and food won’t cost you an arm and a leg which is especially good news if things don’t pan out with your lady friend.
Get Your Ping-Pong On
Ping-pong may just be the perfect sport to play on a first date. It can easily end after one round if things aren’t going well, but you can also stretch it out into a five-game tournament if you’re hitting it off. It also provides a great opportunity to talk some smack (which can be a major turn on) or get a little handsy if she needs help with her serve technique.
Channel Your Inner Katniss
Anyone who’s ever seen ‘The Hunger Games’ has probably secretly wanted to get their hands on a bow and arrow ever since. And now, thanks to a number of archery gyms popping up across the nation, you can channel your inner Katniss—and bring your potential boo along for the ride. I’ve actually gone on a date to an archery club before, so I can assure you that it’s a great time. After going over important stuff like safety we got some target practice and played games where we shot our arrows at balloons. There were a ton of other couples in our class, too, which created a low-pressure, relaxed vibe that’s perfect for date numero uno.
Check Out Indoor Rock Climbing
Sure, there’s spandex pants and groin-accentuating harnesses involved, but those aren’t the only reasons you should ask that girl from the office on a rock climbing date. It’s actually really mentally and physically challenging— and fun, too. Plus, since you typically have to take some type of group safety course before you can climb solo, it keeps the energy casual and light which is the perfect getting-to-know-you atmosphere.
Reel Her In
While one-on-one deep-sea fishing may be too much for a first-time hangout session, if you know of a great dockside fishing area, you should consider making it your next date spot. Kick off the afternoon with some coffee or lunch and then set up shop by the water for a few hours of fishing.
Gain Some Altitude
First dates can be stressful, we all know that. But what many people don’t know is that spending time in nature can reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, making outdoor dates, like hiking, ideal. Look for a trail in your area that isn’t overly strenuous or long, and finish off the afternoon with a lunch or round of drinks.
Go to a Dance Class
If you don’t consider dancing a sport you’ve probably never taken a class before; it can be really challenging and invigorating. If she’s down to give it a try, look for something that’s new to both of you so you’re both on an even playing field. Swing, salsa and ballroom dance classes are typically widely offered genres. Look for a beginners session in your area and get pumped for some great music and some sensual hand on hip action.
Lace Up Your Skates
Whether it’s ice skating in the winter or rollerblading in the summer, skating around can be a fun first date. If she’s a little shaky on her feet, you’ll be given a natural opportunity to hold her hand (aw!) and if she’s got some Olympic-level skills, you can spend your time together being competitive and playful. Either way, it’s bound to be a successful first date.
Once only popular among the 65+ set, shuffleboard is really trendy right now with millennials and hipsters. Do a little Googling to find a local bar with a shuffleboard court and engage in a bit of friendly competition with your special woman. With any luck, she’ll be so impressed with your date idea that things will move from platonic to flirtatious in no time.
Head to a Driving Range
If you’re a bit of a Tiger, this date is your time to shine. Once you get to the range, nab her a club with a higher loft, like an 8 or 9 iron, and show her how to drive. These clubs are easier to use than a driver so she’ll likely get some better shots out (read: she’ll think you’re an awesome teacher!) and have a more enjoyable time.
According to relationship expert Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., participating in adventurous water sports, like kayaking, releases hormones that can help couples and potential couples bond. So throw on your bathing suit, grab the SPF and find a local kayaking tour in your area. Many tours include lunch and nature-viewing “pit stops” which provide the perfect amount of getting-to-know-you and adventure time. In other words, they’ll likely make you get back into your boat before you run out of things to talk about.
Hit the Bowling Alley
Between the DJ beats, the burgers and beer and the actual game, a bowling alley has all the makings of an ideal first date location. A bit of competition can be super sexy, and the casual fare and music help to keep the mood light and fun.