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Work It Out ... Alone

The plight of the single athlete

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In January, it's great to be a single athlete. The ball drops, and you resolve to drop that last 10 pounds. You spend the next 30 days fine-tuning your body and your moves. Modifiers begin to define your sport: better, faster, stronger. You can finally bounce a penny off your rock-hard abs. You achieve a state of untouchable, athletic sexiness. You could have anyone you want, even if you are, well, single at the moment.

Then along comes Valentine's Day to ruin your sexy parade. The day of hearts and roses reminds you that no matter how hot your body is, it might be nicer to have someone else bounce that penny off your abs.

February is a rough month for single athletes. It is the month for lying low, finding the softest spot in the bed and declaring it hibernation time.

We may not be able to match you ripple for ripple, but we can encourage you not to wallow. We recognize the inherent challenges of February, but we're here to tell you how to take your solo sexiness and do something with it. Rather than hibernating through February, we've mapped out the advantages of testing your hotness in a new sport and meeting someone who would be happy to join you. We've gathered dating tips from the finest in several athletic fields and we've got a Valentine's Day game plan for meeting other singles.

Find your groove thing at the gym

Next to church, the local gym comes in an easy second for its advantages over other common markets.

"You know, it's better than a bar," said Kim Mancini of the Idaho Athletic Club.

The gym gets high marks for serendipitous meetings that can be re-lived for years and you'll always have your love of sweat to buoy your union.

"At the bar, all you have in common is that you like to drink or party," said Mancini. "But at the gym, you get all walks of life. It's a better place to meet somebody."

Mancini even offered some insider gym dating info.

"Evenings are more the pickup time," she said. "Or maybe even early mornings."

Roger that. It's Thursday evening, V-day 2008. You're slamming a kickboxing bag with all the venom of a jilted lover when you lock eyes with a hottie sporting a martial arts tattoo. The remainder of the class is sweat, pounding music and some very sensual roundhouse kicks. Suddenly, your solo month is history.

Learn to love the snow ... and a skier

Even if you're not a winter person, this could be the winter of all winters to change that. If the snow doesn't motivate you, maybe a few sexy snow bunnies can.

The chairlift is a fantastic place to mix and mingle. Show up alone, find someone who looks good in their ski suit, and wiggle your way onto the lift next to them. You'll have plenty of time to strike up a conversation on the way to the top of the mountain. Performing a face plant while getting off the chair may garner some sympathy points and a few lessons on turning in the powder.

If your bunny of choice is patient enough to help you learn to turn, you may end up riding the chairlift together on purpose.

Become aware of someone in yoga class

Let's face it, yogis have nice bodies and, supposedly, calm minds. This one could be a two-birds, one-stone thing: find inner peace and meet your mate.

Jackie Baer teaches yoga around Boise, at Boise State and at local gyms. She knows yoga is a zen thing.

"People are more inward," said Baer. "I tell them to close their eyes, go inside. If they open their eyes and there's the love of their life ... hey, who's to say?"

The prospect of bringing some bend into your other sports—not to mention the bedroom—should be enough to get you on a yoga mat.

If you can't put that foot behind your head like the Gumby next to you, don't worry. Yoga dating bonus No. 1 is: yoga is noncompetitive and very supportive. Sort of like the relationship you form with the person you meet in a yoga class.

Yoga dating bonus No. 2 would be the teacher's decision to partner everyone up for a pose, doing so right when you're next to the cutest yogi in the room.

"Couples yoga is really nice because it does connect you and your partner," Baer said. "They're helping you and you're helping them, so there's some bonding."

Just keep it friendly while you're helping your partner to twist into a new position. Maintaining a mature attitude during awkward yoga moves could earn you a first date, since yogis are all about respect. Namaste.

Perfect your love stroke at the pool.

One local swim director was cautious when talking about flirting poolside and asked us to use his nickname if he was going to talk openly about how to swim and date.

"Swimsuits are usually a polyester blend, tight-fitting and a lot depends on the cut of your swimsuit," said "J.P." "You've got nothing to hide."

If you already have the six-pack, why not take that physique to the pool and put it to work learning your swim strokes? If your breath and stroke coordination isn't great, maybe you'll take a different view of those around you.

Swimming is an incredibly powerful workout, and no sport is easier on the joints. It's calming and quiet, but it can also be competitive. Make it your mission to prevent the slender swimmer in your lane from lapping you and you'll create competition and a bond. Everyone likes a challenge.

"Just like auto racing, you can draft [in the pool]," J.P. said. "If you've got a good swim partner, you can draft off of each other. You can really go fast, using that other person's strength, and if one of you gets tired, the other can lead."

Once you've got your drafting, strokes and pacing down, have a throwdown. Offering an athlete a healthy rivalry will make them appreciate you. While you towel off, take advantage of the post-swim opportunity to ask your rival to dinner.

The couple that plays together or breaks bones together, stays together. Hopefully, by the time next February rolls around, you won't have to disdain this holiday so completely. In fact, you could be celebrating the month of love right along with all those other slightly pudgy lovebirds. Your Valentine's Day may be even better if you met your honey through sports; you'll both be fit and have no trouble making plans for the holiday. Revisiting the way you first met, whether on the slopes, at the gym or on a yoga mat might bring you back to what you were doing before you met. Finish the day in bed together surrounded by a pile of pennies.

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