The idea behind FITFCK is simple. Single gym bunnies and fitness aficionados tired of hitting the iron by themselves can simply download the dating app and find prospective partners. Romance and dumbbells are seemingly just a few swipes away. However, CEO and founder Wykes-Hobday rejects the notion that this reduces FITFCK to a superficial meat market for the super fit.

“For me, a fitness enthusiast is someone looking to better themselves mentally and physically by going to the gym,” he tells Verdict. “Are we saying that you have to have a six pack and 2% body fat to be on our platform? No. But are we saying you have to go to the gym? Yes. Because that’s our niche and that makes sense. And if people find that elitist, then so be it.”

To avoid couch potatoes from logging on to the dating app, FITFCK will only allow a category of pictures despised by users on similar platforms: gym pics.

“We are going to have a system where the photos that are uploaded have to be photos of you in the gym,” Wykes-Hobday says, adding that the dating app will hire human administrators to monitor the pictures uploaded to the app.

Human monitors are good and well when FITFCK only has the 200,000 people on the dating app’s waiting list to handle. The challenge would, however, grow insurmountable if the venture would become as successful as the founder hopes it will be.

As social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have learned the hard way in the past, there is no way people are enough to monitor every piece of content when members grow to be in the millions. For that, you need artificial intelligence (AI), which has its limitations too.

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“Obviously, at the moment, it is something that we can monitor because we’re not at that scale,” Wykes-Hobday says. “But we’re not under any illusion that once it’s fully scaled that we’ll be getting someone checking it every hour. [We] fully understood that we’re going to be [using AI for] that.”

FITFCK taps OnlyFans founder for funding for the dating app

The gym-focused dating app has just bagged a heavy £3m valuation on top of a cash injection from OnlyFans’ founder Tim Stokely, who exited the subscription service last year. Wykes-Hobday declines to comment on how much Stokely and other investors have put into the startup, referring to signed confidentiality agreements.

“Tim and I’ve known each other now for the best part of three years,” Wykes-Hobday says. “He’s been someone that I’ve always spoken to and looked up to in terms of what he achieved – to have scaled a business from his kitchen to a multi-billion dollar brand is incredible. It is something I hope to emulate with FITFCK.”

Wykes-Hobday has toyed with the idea behind FITFCK ever since his girlfriend dumped him during a bodybuilding show several years ago.

“She said my training lifestyle was too overwhelming,” he recalls. “She said it’s socially incompatible, which is true.”

The way Wykes-Hobday tells it, the experience inspired him to start working on a project that would become FITFCK.

“When I left uni, we had a really good first pilot where we got the 200,000 people on board,” he explains, those same 200,000 people are now the same people on the new version’s waiting list.

Following the pilot, the “very small team” behind the venture has focused on rebranding the company.

“We’re not just a dating app,” the FITFCK founder says, explaining that the company is running several fitness-focused events with partners like F45 and Red Bull. The events provide singles with an opportunity to meet and work out with other singles. FITFCK also plans to roll out a podcast “later this year.”

This diversification of the brand is also what he hopes will set FITFCK apart from similar fitness-focused dating apps like True Swolemates, Singlefit and Sweatt. And then we haven’t even mentioned the plethora of other niche dating apps out there.

New app launching in November

Dating is big business. Despite fears that the industry would struggle during the pandemic, it ended up coming out swinging, stronger than ever.

The global online dating application market size was valued at $7.5bn in 2021 and is expected to expand to about $12bn by 2030, according to a report from Grand View Research.

Unsurprisingly, there is a wealth of companies angling for a piece of that pie. It is easy to focus on the big players in this game like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr, but that would fail to recognise smaller and more focused services.

For instance, Muzmatch caters to the Muslim community, Feeld is set up for people who don’t conform to heteronormative stereotypes, and Raya is the celebrity dating app Amy Schumer met her ex-boyfriend on. Thursday is only available on Thursdays, encouraging users to give their A-game during one single day.

Stateside, Conservatives are eagerly anticipating the launch of The Right Stuff, hoping that they’ll be luckier on a platform where their views on the right to abortion don’t disqualify them in the eyes of more mainstream app users.

The female problem

Wykes-Hobday clearly has his work cut out for him if he wants FITFCK to make a splash in that ocean of dating apps. However, he may have an advantage: he claims the platform has successfully managed to actually attract women to come and join it.

“I’m delighted to say that our ratio at the moment is 60-40, female to male and at our events, we naturally attract a 70-30 split,” Wykes-Hobday says.

“And eventually we have to balance it out, which is a great problem to have, because I am fully aware that in my opinion, the females have the biggest voice on social media. I’m very grateful that our audience is mostly women.”

FITFCK has hired Alpha X in Munich to develop the app, which will be rolled out in November. While Wykes-Hobday is toying with the idea of launching it countrywide, for now, it looks like it will only launch in London.

Once it launches, time will tell what gains the fitness-focused dating app can make.

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.