A match made in fitness heaven! The latest running app wants to help you find your sweaty soulmate with a simple swipe to the right

By Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Corbis Images

Finding your perfect running buddy is almost tougher than finding the perfect date. Not only do they need to have good hygiene, excellent conversational skills, and not be creepy, but they also have to be able to keep up with you on that 10-miler.

Good thing there's now an app that aims to streamline the process of finding your sweaty soulmate. Jaha, the unofficial lovechild of Tinder and RunKeeper, combines the simplicity of making a match with a (workout) partner and the functionality of a fitness tracker. (Having a Fitness Buddy Is the Best Thing Ever.)

Jaha, whose name means "chase" in the African language Zulu, does all the things you'd expect from a fitness tracker: It counts your steps, lets you log workouts, and tracks mileage. But its real draw is the friend finder function. The app uses your GPS to locate people in your area who are also looking for a workout buddy, and shows you each person's profile along with a headshot. Just swipe left to skip or right to make a connection, à la Tinder. If you both swipe right, the app lets you chat via an in-app messaging system where you can make plans to meet up and work out.

"We love the swipe because it is a great way to encourage people to actively connect with fitness friends without the fear of feeling rejected," said Gary So, who cofounded the app with Patrick Tang.

Not ready for an outing yet? (We get it, you're fresh out of a running buddy breakup.) Jaha also gives you the option to challenge virtual buddies, which not only helps you get to know them better but amps up the competition for a better workout. You could see who can run the fastest 5K or who can do the heaviest deadlift. You can even trash talk, er, encourage, each other on the slam boards. The app will then notify you of the winner. (Also try these 8 Running Apps to Help You Train for Your Next Race.)

One problem with the app, which debut in May after a successful crowdfunding campaign, is that it doesn't allow people to say what type of exercise they like to do, nor does it allow people to search for buddies in a specific sport. That means you might have to chat with a lot of runners before you find a cyclist you click with, or vice versa. Plus, the app's only available on Apple right now. But the developers say both issues will be fixed this year. In the meantime, Jaha joins sites like ExerciseFriends and SparkPeople's Buddy Finder, which also let you search for workout friends in your area.

So get your swiping finger ready-thanks to the magic of technology, boring solo runs or being forced to stick with your slow friends could become a thing of the past.

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