A Killer Workout & Pro-Dating Tips? This. Is. Happening.

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2The Bar Method just opened a new studio in the Gold Coast, which means there’s one more spot in the city to help you land a hot body — and a hot date. On Thursday at 7:30 p.m., the sleek studio is hosting a special event with Bela Gandhi, founder of Smart Dating Academy. After working up a good burn, stick around to ask Gandhi your burning questions about revving up the romance this summer. She’ll also clue you in on her tried-and-true “landing-a-man plan,” so pack a notebook and pen along with your water bottle and sweats.

And, if you can’t make it to the class, you can always hit the academy’s website to book a private consultation with the woman that The Huffington Post called the “fairy godmother of dating.” But in the meantime, we sat down with Gandhi to get the scoop on what it takes to rule the Windy City’s singles scene.

What does it take to become a dating expert?
“I have been matchmaking people pretty much my entire adult life and loving it. My first match got engaged in 1999, and it's been gangbusters since. You need to love people and have a real sixth sense about who and what is right for them and why. One of the key things I help my clients with as well is staying motivated. Dating isn't always easy, and it takes work to achieve your goals, so I become the personal trainer for their love lives. I teach my clients to use the same approach I did in landing my man, and we've been married for 16 years and have two kids.”

What habit do Chicago girls have to break if they want to find true love?
“Dating the same types of guys over and over again and expecting good or different results. It gets back to Einstein's definition of insanity. One of the first exercises we do with women [at the Smart Dating Academy] is the Marriage Map, which helps women to clarify their wants versus their needs. Something Chicago girls are catching on to is that it is possible to find love with online dating, and it can be a "better" way to do it. This is one of the key ways we help our clients, who are busy, successful professionals. Fifty percent of our engagements come from online dating websites, believe it or not.”

What are the best date spots in Chicago?
“This city is awash is great date spots. One of my favorite places is RM Champagne bar, and I also love Maude's for a great, casual but sexy vibe. And, you can't beat Cafe Baba Reeba's patio in the summer with a glass of cold sangria for a date.”

What are the main advantages and disadvantages of dating in Chicago?
“Chicago girls have a great Midwestern sensibility, good values, and warm hearts, as do the men. Men here tend to be more ready to settle down than in other cities. This is definitely an easier city to date in than New York or Los Angeles — trust me. I've got tons of clients in both cities, and when they come to meet me in Chicago, they really consider moving here! One hard facet of Chicago is the cold, dark winter. It's easier to have fun, outdoor dates in California, Florida, or Texas all year round, when you can be out and active. Studies show that getting active together can generate adrenaline, which results in attraction.”

Help us clear this up: On a first date, should a girl offer to pay her half of the bill?
“A girl should always genuinely offer to at least share the bill. Men are earnestly dating as well, and most of us girls want them to pay; not because we don't have the money, but because it makes us feel special. Empathize with this, that the guy may be going near broke spending $300 a week on dates because he's really trying hard to meet someone. I work with lots of men, and most love it when ladies offer to pay. They feel it shows character, and that the woman would make a good long-term partner and pull weight in the relationship. Men are often turned off by the princess who looks the other way, and makes zero effort to pay the bill. If he offers to pay, you can let him, but be genuinely appreciative and thank him profusely for it. Men want to be acknowledged for what they provide, so give him praise in abundance.”

How do you know when someone's the right one?
“In solid relationships, the individuals have thought through their values, lifestyles, ambitions, and actively choose partners that want similar things. They're clear on what they want and need. Also, they are attracted to their partners — really attracted! And, they're ready to step out of the game of musical chairs. It's never about settling; it's about saying this person is truly "good enough" and committing. It's a beautiful thing. This combination of things makes you ‘just know,’ and importantly, makes the love last for decades.”

There’s a $20 fee for Thursday night’s class. Call 312-573-9150 to book your spot.

Bar Method, 1 East Delaware Street (at North State Street); 312-573-9150.