Something terrible is happening. I didn’t even know about it last week until a friend told me she had been invited on one. I nearly spilt my wine. But it is A THING. And it is happening in a city, or town, near you.
Sounds innocuous, if vaguely disgusting. But when you find out the sinister meaning, it becomes a dark thing. A terrifying thing. A dreadful thing.
A sweat date is where you go and work out with someone else as a form of socialising or – and this is where the fear creeps in – as a professional meeting. “Let’s do a sweat date soon yeah?” is how you might hear it used in a phrase. Or hopefully, not. Not ever.
My friend in question had been invited on a sweat date by a client. The client was suggesting that instead of having a coffee, getting breakfast or, I dunno, just having a meeting, they should go and do a fitness activity together. And sweat. They should have a sweat date.
I don’t pretend to understand how a meeting could take place under these conditions and I don’t want to.
When I go spinning, or to the gym, or to release all my emotions through the medium of contemporary dance, I go there to purposefully be away from people who I might have to talk to, or look at, or interact with. I put all my focus and energy into working up a… sweat.
I wear the fitness gear items that I have assembled over the years that are mismatched and, in some cases, gently peppered with holes. I have a tie-dye t-shirt with wolves on it, purchased in a charity shop in 2012. I have a racer-back vest I got free on the front of a magazine. I have some running tights I once used to do the decorating in and therefore has splashes of paint on the calf. In a decade of gym-going I have not yet ‘got round’ to buying proper sports socks. Yesterday I worked out in a pair of bright green novelty St Patrick’s Day socks covered in shamrocks. I’m not even Irish.
The gym or the studio is the place where I go to be free. It is maybe the only time in the week when I don’t have to worry about what I look like. I trudge there shiny and happily makeup-less, my hair scraped back in a bun, resplendent in my ramshackle garments and I give ZERO f**ks about it. For one magical hour it is where I de-compress and de-stress – and sweat.
The advent of the sweat date suggests there can be no place on earth that is not a designated work meeting arena. It’s bad enough that many jobs now require you to be available to respond to emails and work on your phone/tablet practically 24-7. Now your place of relaxation is about to be filled with people having annoying conversations. Or even worse, you will be one of the people having the annoying conversations.
I do not want blue sky thinking on the elliptical machine. I do not want brainstorming on the bike.
If I am having a date or meeting, I like to look vaguely presentable. A sweat date might be fine for an elegant, polished sort of person who looks excellent with a slap-head and sans a kilo of colour correcting base. It might not be as good for someone who morphs into a red-faced, teeth-baring monster, who growls and grunts as they do epic battle with machinery. GRRRRR.
I have worked out with friends before and it was fine. But I would much rather spend the precious time I have with my pals shooting the shit over a bottle of wine and really be able to talk. Who can have a serious chat while they are cross training? Or getting changed? Or crying no no no makeitstop? No one.
I have also worked out with boyfriends, due to being in a hotel with a gym, or because we’ve gone for a weekend run or a game of tennis (OK I’ve done this, like, once). But the idea of attempting a proper ‘getting to know you’ romantic date, as I pound desperately on the treadmill emanating BO and with sweat dripping in my eyes? Nope.
If you want to look into this phenomenon further, social media is full of sweat dates. There are 1,480 posts under #sweatdate on Instagram to date and loads of Tweets under the same. Look at these feeds of people looking happy and working out together on sweat dates if you want to punch a wall.
The funny women (Stevie Martin, Tessa Coates and Liz Kingsma ...