At what age do you give up looking for love in bars and pubs? If you feel old for clubs, should you take the search to your local fitness emporium instead? Are gyms pulling palaces for the over-30s?

It’s February and the annual peak in New Year-inspired gym memberships has already slumped. “What now?” cry the marketing departments. And thus they fall upon the next consumer-fest on the calendar: Valentine’s Day.

‘Speed plating’ is exactly as it sounds: it’s speed dating but on Power Plates. For those of you who don’t know what a Power Plate is, it’s the object at the centre of a vibrating fitness craze. Users do exercises while standing on a vibrating metal plate, which supposedly magnifies the effects. Ninety seconds later they are miraculously transformed from blubbery masses into slim, toned fitness freaks – or something like that anyway.

So. Speed plating it is then. “How on earth will that work?” I hear you ask. Well, that’s exactly what I thought. This was quickly followed by: “Just how excruciatingly humiliating will that be?” and “How on earth are they going to persuade people to do that?”

Friends speculated encouragingly about the attractiveness of a sweaty glow, and the opportunities to meet men dressed in Lycra. Then they made unnerving comments about my “jiggling booty” vibrating on the plate.

I love the photo above. It’s an absolutely cracking PR photo: beautiful people having a beautiful time in a beautiful setting, and not looking at all freaked out. Fabulous. So utterly unrealistic – and yet the funny thing is, the truth was actually far sweeter.

We were led into a windowless basement with only 15cm between each plate machine, but that made it cosy. The daters weren’t models, coming as they did in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they were attractive nonetheless (although it has to be said, most of them were decidedly sweaty).

The mystery of how the organisers got people to enter into such an odd-sounding arrangement was quickly solved: the platers hadn’t pre-booked, and they didn’t know they were going to be dating. The gym staff ran around the gym 10 minutes before the start and rounded them up from the running machines and weights rooms.

I got an inkling that the ladies might have been tipped off as to what was going to happen, but the men had been lured in for the a chance to try out a new piece of equipment and then had the dating aspect sprung upon them. My mother would be so proud if she managed to pull off that kind of ruse …

It was over in a flash, which seemed wise given the likelihood of mutiny. We exercised in pairs on the plate whilst answering inane questions read out by the instructor. “What’s your favourite form of physical exercise?” was one question. And “Endurance sports or short explosive bursts?” was another. “Crunchy or smooth?” was just too oblique to even attempt to answer.

It was like a normal gym class except we were partnered up with an unwitting stranger of the opposite sex. Each leg lunge was punctuated with a high-five with our date. There were exercises that involved lying down face-to-face and a warm-down calf massage that reduced my partner to a fit of uncontrollable giggles.

One guy, one question, one exercise, and then everyone scarpered. “Thanks for coming and we hope you enjoyed meeting some of your fellow gymgoers,” shouted the instructor to the fleeing backs.

So should the over-30s ditch clubbing and seek love in the gym? If you’re single, would prefer not to be, and have lost interest in clubbing, it’s probably best to widen the search. If you like hanging out at the gym, then why not? It might be best to stick to the pay as you go membership, though, just in case you need a swift change of scene halfway through the year.

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