WRITTEN BY RICHARD SEVEN
PHOTOGRAPHED BY JOHN LOK
Finding A Fit
Married 50 years, Anita and Gene Lagerberg take a circuit class together at Body Electric Fitness. In sharing the activity, they say, they help each other keep motivated.
NOTHING BINDS a relationship like having that common passion. So why can't it be fitness and health?
Take the case of Marci and Aron Hart. Back in 1989, when they were dating, Aron joined Seattle Fitness with his brother. Marci did, too, but only because he did. They weren't athletic — "couch potatoes" is how she puts it. She was a big reader, and he pursued his art. In fact, she figures she actually used her membership six or seven times that first year.
He began getting results, and spent more and more of his time at the gym. She began getting jealous that his time and focus were someplace other than with her. So she got more involved.
The couple married in 1991, and their relationship continues to evolve around exercise and the Pioneer Square club. Marci, 45, is now an assistant manager there and regularly takes cardiovascular classes. Aron, 44, is as dedicated as ever and has less than 10 percent body fat, Marci says.
For Valentine's Day two years ago, she hired a personal trainer for him. Then she wanted to do it, too, so now they work out together with the trainer.
"Our lives have improved in so many ways," she says. "And my life would likely be far different today if he hadn't made the commitment in the first place."
Now, Anita and Gene Lagerberg's relationship goes well beyond fitness, being that they have been married for 50 years, raised kids, have grandchildren and do exotic excursions together. But each Monday and Wednesday night they go to a circuit fitness class led by Seattle personal trainer Victoria Scott, owner of Body Electric Fitness. It is something they do together, like birding. One of their daughters gave them a session with Scott, and the couple turned it into a habit, five years running.
"If we weren't doing it together, neither of us would likely be doing the class," says Gene, 76, who practiced medicine in Seattle for more than 30 years. "It's easier to do something when you do it together."
In fact, a healthy lifestyle is a powerful matchmaker. Janet Pearce, a coordinator with Pre-dating.com in Seattle, says "fit singles" events are among her most popular and effective. Her usual "match rate" — in which both parties wish to see each other again — is about 65 percent for normal get-togethers. But it is far higher, perhaps 85 percent, when the date is centers on a specific common theme such as fitness, she says.
Appropriately, perhaps, Pre-dating.com employs the "speed-dating" system. This is where singles rotate around the room, spending short but focused periods of time with each potential mate so they can decide whether there is any point in taking the next step. Given the efficiency required, it stands to reason knowing the other person is interested in fitness at least provides an ice-breaker.
So popular is health and fitness in Seattle and among her clients that Pearce included several of them in her February schedule. The next one, for "active/fit singles" between the ages of 32 and 42, is set for Feb. 21. Another, for singles between the ages of 48 and 58, is scheduled for Feb. 28. See www.pre-dating.com for details.
Chris Mattioli founded www.fitness-singles.com almost two years ago based on his own experience. When looking for a mate, he instinctively searched for other active people. He spotted what he considered an uninhabited niche. Daters who subscribe can look up potential mates not just by geography, age and preferences, but also by the sports they like.
"I think it's pretty clear that people who build a solid friendship first are better off," he says. "And it seems hard for there to be a strong relationship when one person is eating chips on the couch while the other is working out."
But people also meet all the time at the gym, health club or company softball game without screening. I've always been either too focused or too married to look around while working out, but the potential seems obvious enough to me. If nothing else, the health club is a place of shared interest in health, and no smoking.
Richard Seven is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. John Lok is a Seattle Times staff photographer.
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