2021 is not just about embracing a hot vax summer and finding love again. It’s about doing so efficiently. Enter the era of niche dating apps. From meme and music-based dating to summoning your adrenaline rushes only on Thursdays, the concept has undoubtedly become the new norm of the industry. Adding onto the list is ateam, a new dating app dedicated to those who want to share their daily goals, reps and morning alarms with each other.
Based in New York, ateam is the first ever members-only dating and social networking app for health, wellness and fitness enthusiasts. Brainchild of Dan Ilani, a former entertainment lawyer and producer, and Megan Baldwin, a writer and creative director, the name ‘ateam’ stems from the belief that the best relationships in life function as “a team”—be it romantic, platonic or professional.
“Connecting with like-minded people has become harder than ever,” Illani said in an interview with Forbes. “And yet, we know people live longer and healthier lives when they’re part of a community, part of a team.” Surrounded by positive vibes, inspirational instructors and motivating classmates at his fitness classes, Illani started exploring the concept of meeting more people within the fitness community. “We’ve all felt that spark of connection in a studio class or at a starting line, now ateam wants to take that feeling one step further,” the founder added.
Driven by the vision of fitness being a mindset instead of a body shape, look or size, ateam is committed to inclusivity—by welcoming all genders, races, sexualities and identities. The only prerequisite here is a commitment to health, be it personal, social or global. “If you’re motivated to be the best version of yourself, you should be working out your mind, body, and soul with people who share your values,” both Baldwin and Ilani shared with Forbes.
Apart from its exclusive focus on the health and fitness community, ateam is also different from most dating apps in terms of its working model and interface. For starters, ateam requires members to pay $14 per month as a subscription fee to access the platform—in contrast to the paywall users usually hit while accessing premium features on other dating apps. Keep in mind that the $14 here is an all-inclusive fee, with no extra in-app purchases necessary for additional time or likes.
Secondly, ateam eliminates the traditional swipe-to-match feature from the dating industry altogether. The app is instead designed to move away from the “gamified deck-of-cards experience” because Ilani says he “doesn’t believe that finding a soulmate or a new friend should feel like a video game.” “Dating through apps has become so fatiguing because you constantly meet the people who are totally wrong for you,” the founder explained to Shape Magazine. “By curating a community of people who truly value wellness and fitness, you are much more likely to feel compatible with the people you meet.”
ateam practices what it preaches by partnering with wellness enthusiasts, fitness instructors and studio founders across the US. According to Forbes, the company has partnered with 30 boutique fitness studios and counting, most of which are regional leaders in their categories with multiple outlets. Clients of the partner studios, ranging from Y7 Studio to Box + Flow and MNDFL Meditation, are also put on the fast track for acceptance.
This intense network of studios and referral partners ensures a more holistic approach to fitness, thereby bringing health “beyond routine and ritual, into relationships.” This ‘relationship’, however, is also not just restricted to dating as I mentioned earlier. According to Illani, ateam has a separate dating area so that “those coming for ‘Friends Only’ feel comfortable and that there’s clarity around everyone’s intentions.”
So, if you are someone looking for a life or a hiking partner, here’s how you can join ateam. First head to the App Store (currently only available on iOS) and download the app onto your phone. You would then have to submit an application, which will be reviewed by a committee of health and wellness leaders. This is a measure to cross-check your identity and your interests in health and fitness. A profile can then be created by uploading photos and filling in data about your fitness routines (for example, your favourite activity and time of the day to workout). A list of questions about your favourite books, podcasts, songs and movies will follow. These are regarded as “cultural items,” which essentially help spark conversations on the platform.
In terms of its interface, Shape Magazine highlights the app’s similarities with that of Facebook and Instagram—where you can view other profiles and send direct messages. A full-fledged connection with another member, however, can only be initiated after having a mutual conversation and thereby “matching” on the app.
From July 2021, ateam members will be granted access to invite-only events held in collaboration with ateam’s fitness studio partners. Every week, they will be invited to events that will include group fitness classes and social hours, free of cost. These events can either be virtual or in-person. ateam also plans to roll out a series called “Reinvent the Date,” where members can join their potential partners on dates to various studio locations and receive 2-for-1 classes.
Dubbed as the “Raya for wellness enthusiasts,” ateam hopes to redefine both dating and socialising by engaging users in a whole different activity than just another night at the bar. ‘Flex and curl’ might just be the new ‘Netflix and chill’. After all, like ateam preaches: “We are only as healthy as our relationships.”