Toiling away on the treadmill one day, you glance across the room to see a hottie on the weight floor looking your way. Your eyes meet and you feel heat rising that has nothing to do with sweat. On a whim, you hop off your 'mill and head straight for him. You're never this bold! But today, somehow, as his well-muscled arms reach for you, sparks flying, you . . . you remember that you are in a gym. A gross, smelly, fluid-encrusted gym filled with strangers. And your hot tryst can never happen. Sigh.
If you've ever had a fantasy similar to the one above, know that you're in good company as gym sex fantasies are incredibly common, says sex expert Alyssa Dweck, M.S., M.D., a gynecologist and assistant clinical professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. (Related: 8 Things Men Wish You Knew About Sex)
Getting turned on at the gym may seem strange at first. (What, exactly, is sexy about a bunch of strangers trying not to make eye contact while they do painful things?) But there are some solid reasons the sex-in-the-gym fantasies make perfect sense.
"The whole point of fantasy is to escape the every day as novelty cures boredom, especially the bedroom," says Dweck. "And fantasizing is the perfect way to explore taboos—like having sex in a public place—without having to deal with the consequences of really doing it."
But what is it about the gym, precisely, that gets so many women going? It starts with physical enticement and the power of suggestion, says Dweck. "If you're in a gym, you likely already care about what you, and others, look like," she says. "Plus, thanks to typical workout attire, it's easier at the gym to imagine people without their clothes, doing sexy things, than it is, say, at the bank." (Not to mention all the exercise moves that mimic sexual positions!)
Plus, Dweck explains that aerobic exercise releases a powerful rush of endorphins. These feel-good chemicals are best known for inducing a runner's high but they can also lead to sexual arousal. Not doing cardio? No problem. Weight lifting can give you a small boost of testosterone which in turn raises your libido. And, she adds, all exercise amps up your dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin levels—brain chemicals that are all tied to happiness and love.
But feeling frisky at the gym and getting frisky in the gym are two totally different things. In an informal poll, we found that while almost every woman we asked admitted to feeling the former, we couldn't find a single person that would admit to the latter, which might be for the best given how unhygienic most fitness establishments are. (Although more than a few 'fessed up to hooking up with their personal trainers outside of the gym!)
That doesn't mean you need to let a perfectly good fantasy go to waste! You can live out your dream in a safe (and clean) way in the privacy of your own bedroom. Call it the ultimate couple's workout and take that pent-up passion home by playing personal trainer-trainee with your partner or take advantage of the equipment in your basement gym. (Need inspo? Start with this heart-rate raising partner workout.)