Organising a kick-ass first date is a skill. Dinner and a movie can be fun but a date sprinkled with a touch of fitness might just be even better. Not only will you impress your new man, all that sweat and the boost of happy hormones will help break the ice and set a really upbeat tone, helping you bond in a different way.
The added bonus is you’ll be burning calories while you flirt up a storm, rather than consuming them! If you’re stuck for ideas, here are my 10 favourite active date themes.
Once you decide on which way to roll, just hit up Google to find out where you can do them near you and GO!
10 Active date ideas
Theme #1: Get wet
Stand up paddle boarding – SUP is low impact and easy to do, but works your whole body. If you’re the competitive type, get racing. Or if you prefer a leisurely pace, just cruise along and sunbake out in the middle of the deep blue sea. Sigh… so romantic.
White water rafting – for the adrenaline junkie couple, rafting is a winner! Get ready to be drenched in water, sweat and maybe even a few tears, eep.
Private surf lesson – you probably don’t want to book a group session crammed with kids, but if surfing is something he’s always wanted to try his hand at, you’ll get major points for organising a private lesson.
Theme #2: Play fight
Archery – there’s just something about a bow and arrow that’s a little bit romantic, emotional and sexy. Let’s face it, Jen Lawrence’s archery skills in The Hunger Games were hot to trot (and as for Gabe, phwoar!) You’ll both love imagining yourself as hunters, ninjas or mythical heroes as you draw, aim, fire!
Boxing class – as if getting hot and sweaty with a sexy man wasn’t good enough, boxing gives you an excuse to focus solely on each other for an entire hour. Even better if you can find a class with a grappling element – any chance to get tangled up with each other like pretzels on the floor, right?
Swordplay / fencing – if he’s a fantasy nut, he’ll really get into this but even if not, what guy wouldn’t love learning to wield a long sword? Pun entirely intended. Splurge on a private fencing lesson or hunt down a martial arts centre that teaches ancient weaponry and get involved. If you can’t find a teacher near you, grab a few make-do swords (piping, rulers, baking rollers) and hit up learn-sword-fighting.com for online lessons, then clear the lounge room and get sparring.
Theme #3: Endorphin rush
Trapeze lesson – a test of trust, partner work and a ridiculous amount of fun. Put your circus skills to the test and leave on a high.
Parkour – a different take on running, parkour is the art of moving from one place to another by the most direct route possible, including jumping, climbing, leaping and even flipping over obstacles as you go. The perfect way to spend an active summer afternoon, hit up the to find an instructor near you.
Obstacle race entry – why not book two tickets to the next themed obstacle race near you? Don’t worry, not all of them are as big and scary as Tough Mudder, there are heaps of 3-5km races out there that feel more like a dress-up party than a race but will still get your heart pumping and the endorphins rushing in. Hit up Obstacle Racers to check out an Australia-wide calendar of events and make sure you pack him a costume.
Theme #4: nature lovers
Horse riding – saddle up for one of the most romantic dates ever. Even better if you know how to ride and can trot off by yourselves with a picnic packed.
Hiking – a good long walk or hike is cheap, refreshing and clears your head, while getting you away from your mobile phones helps you focus on connecting with nature and each other. Hit up Every Trail and search for walks in and around your city.
Camp out under the stars – an oldie but a goodie and oh-so-romantic (separate tents optional!). Go traditional and DIY to feel the satisfaction of completing a project together, or splash some cash on a glamping experience if your date marks a special occasion.
Theme #5: vintage valentines
Ghost tours – most cities have a ghost tour operator and booking a spot on a tour can really open your eyes to the underground history of your city. As far as dates go, all those spooky stories will give you an excuse to cuddle up as you walk the streets. Exercise, cuddles and a few good ghost stories grounded in local history? Perfect.
Rock ‘N’ roll dance lessons – if your date is passionate about the good old days and has a strong sense of fun, book yourselves into a rock ‘n’ roll dance class and get ready to swing, jive and shimmy the night away in each others arms.
Driving range – fact: most men love golf. Most women don’t. But a driving range? Now that is what we call a good compromise! It’s the fun part of golf – swinging a club at a ball and sending it flying – without the boring parts. If you’ve never swung a club before, this is your opportunity to get your date’s arms wrapped around you as he guides your technique.
Theme #6: schoolyard crush
Theme park – got a whole day to burn? Why not spend it running around a theme park, riding rollercoasters and playing putt-putt. Not only are theme parks still incredible fun as an adult, they’re BIG and take a serious amount of walking to get around… hello workout! Just avoid those hot dog and fairy floss stands.
Zoo visit – there’s something calming about slowly walking around a zoo hand in hand, stopping to check out cute animals and reading all about them. (Maybe check whether your date is an animal lover first.)
Festival weekend or rock concert – pull on your Converse sneakers, slip into your hipster jeans and don your best merch tee, then hold hands as you dive into the mosh pit and headbang to your fave high school band. Oh the memories! Don’t forget to have a pash in a dark corner before you leave. Feeling a bit more of a grown-up vibe? Head to one of the getting-better-every-year, multi-day festivals popping up around the country. If you’re both into yoga, Wanderlust could be the ticket.
Theme #7: tug the heartstrings
Volunteer for his favourite charity – if your date is passionate about doing good, this one’s going to show him how well you know his heart. You’ll both leave feeling grateful and loved up.
Train for a fun run – OK this might be less ‘date’ and more ‘project’ but hey, it still makes the list, ’cause it’s a goodie. Choose a charity, make a training plan, commit to the cause and feel the love. As they say, a couple that train together, stay together…
Walk a heritage trail – soaking up a little history lesson together, while walking around in the sunshine is the perfect romantic combination. Those little info plaques are also good conversation starters on date number one.
Theme #8: perfect catch, perfect drop
Cycling tour of a wine region – need we say more?
Wine making course – this one’s not exactly active, but it’s more active than just drinking the stuff and hey, your brain’s a muscle too, right?
Sunset beach walk + picnic – this is a classic. Walk along the coast, find scenic spot, throw down a rug, pour wine, watch sunset, smooch. Perfection!
Theme #9: pocket rocket (i.e. you have cash to splash)
Active escape – if you’re all cashed up, weekend away and really take time to connect, get healthy and experience something new.
Climb a bridge – if you live in a city with a feature bridge, like Brisbane or Sydney, chances are there’s a business set up to help you climb right to the top of it and take in a bird’s eye view of your city. Post climb endorphins? You betcha! Just make sure your date isn’t scared of heights before you book.
Hire a boat for a day – This is a date that will have you feeling like you’re living the dream life. Whether you hire a yacht overnight, complete with champagne on ice, or just hire a dingy and cruise your local waterways, getting away from the hustle and bustle and being surrounded by oceans of blue helps you forget about work and focus on each other.
Theme #10: foodie foreplay
Cooking lesson – candlelight, colourful spices, a glass of wine and luxe aromos wafting from the oven make for the perfect romantic night.
Farmers market crawl – if you’re both serious foodies, why not mark out a treasure map of all your local farmers markets and spend a weekend morning hopping from one to the other, snapping up the freshest produce and getting a little inspo for a romantic cook up.
Food hop – can’t decide on just one amazing restaurant to try this weekend? Why not choose a grand total of three, all in the one area, and ‘food hop’ from one to the other between courses? A boutique bar for a bowl of olives and your favourite drop, walk to restaurant number one for your entrée, then on to the next for your main course, before walking a few blocks to a gelato shop for dessert under an open sky. Bliss with a few calories burnt along the way.
Bondi-based Libby is the founder of two fitness businesses, AGOGA and Bottoms Up! Fitness, and is also an accomplished writer and media personality. She recently launched her own online fitness program called Buf Girl and a new range of savoury wholefood protein bars called Eat like a Chief.